This is a re-print of an article written some months ago, back when the first full trailer for the film was released. In it, I spoke very highly of how influential the film could be if done correctly. In honor of its release this week, I’ve decided to post it here so that my Yahoo! readers can enjoy it. So, I hope you do just that.
There was a time when kid’s entertainment wasn’t just cute animals and pediatric humor. It was a time when feeding creatures after midnight sparked fear and hilarity, when wolfmen had nards, and you were asked whether or not you were afraid of the dark. It was a time when child-friendly horror ran rampant and inspired many of the creative minds cropping up to take over the next generation. It was a time that has since passed.
Or has it?
Not long ago, a trailer for J.J. Abrams’ latest film “Super 8” was released. Produced by Steven Spielberg, and sporting the long-absent Amblin Entertainment logo at the very beginning, the trailer presents a story that seems to revolve around children facing off against something sinister, and not of this world. The film isn’t due out until June, and it isn’t quite a horror film, but the snippets of footage that have been seen suggest that this is a film that recalls movies like “The Monster Squad” and “Gremlins” (the latter of which Spielberg was also attached to as producer). If it’s successful, it could bring back an era of more intense and even horror-themed child-friendly films. And this would be an incredibly important development.
While some critics and reviewers may downplay their importance, these kiddie films play a big role in the horror community. They may not be the pinnacle of terror or disturbing to the point of insanity, but they spark interest. This interest can lead to bigger and scarier movies, and as the viewers get older they’ll ease themselves into the more advanced genre entries. Many current horror fans (I count myself among them) owe part of their fandom to movies like these. “Gremlins” was a less bloody creature feature, “The Monster Squad” introduced people to the classic horror baddies, and shows like “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” brought viewers twisted storylines without getting too twisted.
But these days studios play it safer, trying not to make things too scary, and only bringing monsters into the mix if it’s something like “Monsters, Inc.” (a great movie, but won’t necessarily spark an interest in giving “American Werewolf” a try). It’s been like this for too long, and there has been a definite for something to come along and break that mold. But, can “Super 8” be that something?
All signs are pointing to “yes”. Spielberg’s involvement certainly sparks interest as he had large creative roles on films like “Gremlins”, “The Goonies”, and practically directed “Poltergeist”. And Abrams has made no secret on what his influences have been. It’s obvious that this isn’t a cash-grab, it’s a labor of love (for Abrams at least) and a possible reflection on why people even get into the industry to begin with. There’s no doubt that it’ll be funny, dramatic, thrilling, and just what the doctor ordered. There could be a new day coming, a day when the studio execs aren’t afraid to give the go-ahead to a family film because of a few choice scenes, and when those who watch these movies find themselves interested in what the horror world has to offer them.
All we need to hope for is that “Super 8” can deliver what it aims to. If it can, then it should be smooth sailing.
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