While there are a wealth of excellent filmmakers contributing to our favorite genre, two names tend to emerge as the frontrunners for the title of true Master of Horror: Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Condering the hot and cold patches each man seems to juggle, determining the superior of the two feels near imposble, though I’ve developed a little scoring system to help sort through the madness.
Ultimately decions and point distribution will be made based upon my own opinion, which makes this yet another subjective piece. That noted, I conder myself knowledgeable in virtually every area of horror, and I’ve got some technical studies under my belt to bit, which I hope aids me in identifying mechanical strengths and weaknesses.
At the end of the day my overall scores may not mirror your own, but I’m confident that glaring deficiencies won’t be a common occurrence.
The point system is really rather mple: a standout film earns a ngle point. A terrible feature will result in a negative tally, essentially negating the earned point. Any film that can be condered questionable or leaves me and my personal opinion stuck on the fence, results in a half point mark. In the few cases in which I’m actually foreign to a specific film, no points will be rewarded or deducted, as there’s no legitimately fair way to asgn a rating on something I’ve never had the privilege of viewing.
Before we get into our breakdown, keep in mind that I’ll only be scoring feature length, genre related films that these two men directed; any additional production, writing or acting duties will not be factored into the equation.
The Last House on the Left: .5
The Hills Have Eyes: 1
Stranger in Our House: .5
Deadly Blesng: 0
Swamp Thing: .5
Invitation to Hell: -1
A Nightmare on Elm Street: 1
The Hills Have Eyes Part II: .5
Deadly Friend: 0
The Serpent and the Rainbow: 1
The People Under the Stairs: 1
New Nightmare: 1
Vampire in Brooklyn: -1
Scream 2: 1
Scream 3: -1
Scream 4: 1
Red Eye: .5
My Soul to Take: -1
Total Score: 5 Points
Summary: The zeroes, as I mentioned gnify my unfamiliarity with a certain film. In the case of this list, I’ve yet to see Deadly Friend and Deadly Blesng. You’ll note that every Scream installment earned a point from me, save for the third feature in the franchise, which was thoroughly underwhelming, thus receiving a negative mark.
I’ve always been a bit indecive in regards to Craven’s gritty debut, The Last House on the Left. While it has some disturbing qualities, it’s technically a bit sloppy, and the taste of the film and its grand message must obviously be called into question. Red Eye and Swamp Thing both teeter on the brink of success, but fall a tad short in my opinion.
While Shocker, The Hills Have Eyes II and Stranger in Our House hold special places in my heart, I’m more than ready to acknowledge the fact that they’re far from perfect films, and generally condered weaker Craven efforts.
There’s not much need in discusng the obvious picks, be it potive or negative; we all know Cursed was miserable, just as we all know A Nightmare on Elm Street was fantastic.
Someone's Watching Me!: 0
The Fog: 1
Escape From New York: 1
The Thing: 1
Big Trouble in Little China: .5
Prince of Darkness: .5
They Live: .5
Body Bags: 1
In the Mouth of Madness: 1
Village of the Damned: -1
Escape from L.A.: -1
Ghosts of Mars: .5
The Ward: 0
Total Score: 7.5 Points
Summary: While I enjoy Prince of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China and They Live, I understand the qualms many have with each picture: POD juggles noticeable pacing issues, They Live is a bit over the top in all the wrong ways, and Big Trouble is a little too busy to ever find a coheve grasp on its own degn. I still enjoy these films, and that’s the reason they each pull down a half point.
Carpenter’s monumental flicks are obvious winners and generally condered fine genre offerings, so I won’t get too deep with my breakdown of films like The Thing, The Fog and Halloween.
If you’re scratching your head over Ghosts of Mars, I don’t blame you. Some love it, some hate it, and some just aren’t too sure; I fall into the latter category.
Village of the Damned and Escape from L.A. (which can be argued doesn’t even qualify as horror, though I definitely see clear traces of the macabre in this one) are both miserable films that lack the pason and intenty of John’s finer works, which results in obvious negative tallies. As for The Ward and Someone's Watching Me!, I obviously haven’t had the chance to screen either: hence the zeroes.
Victor: John Carpenter (2.5 point advantage)