Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Horror's Big Night

I haven't followed the Oscars since 2000. I lost interest in all the hoopla and the older I got, the less the Oscars' sensibilities lined up with my own love of movies. Every time they come around though, and the usual round of outraged reactions to the nominations start to come in, I always wish that The Horror Hall of Fame had kept on rocking. 

Kicking off in 1990, The Horror Hall of Fame was a yearly televised special, hosted by Robert Englund, that honored the year's best in horror that ran for three years, ending in 1992. A fourth special was promised at the close of the third special but it never materialized and the HHoF quietly ended. 

These specials were very much on the hokey side but Englund was a perfect choice as host (with The Crypt Keeper popping in to lend his cackling assistance) and for all the corny banter on display, it never came off any worse on this front than the Oscars ever do. As with the Oscars, The Horror Hall of Fame indulged in the usual share of self congratulatory back slapping (it is still an awards show, after all) but the difference is that the Oscars never brought Chucky or Jason on stage so automatic points to the Horror Hall of Fame. 

Unlike with the Oscars, there was no confusion about what genre The Silence of the Lambs belonged to when it won the Best Picture in the 1991 HHoF special (handily beating out such competition as Misery and Jacob's Ladder). The early '90s were a very demoralized era for horror, both in its commercial fortunes and in its public estimation, so it was cool to see something that openly celebrated the genre's past and present. Horror was in need of some cheerleading then. 

I only wish it had continued. Award shows are vapid by nature but they do serve a purpose in spotlighting excellence and spurring a greater appreciation of the medium and it would have been nice to see something as genre centric as HHoF continue to do that. Mostly, though, I would have loved to have seen how the HHoF would have changed over the years to reflect the shifting trends in the genre. It would have been cool to see the HHoF during the post Scream slasher era or the Saw spawned torture porn years. And it would have been highly amusing to see how a hokey program like this would have adapted to honoring A24's brand of elevated horror, with the likes of Heredity and The Lighthouse being recognized alongside The Meg and Annabelle Comes Home

Had the Horror Hall of Fame continued, on the morning the Oscar nominations were announced this year, fans wouldn't have had to lament the lack of recognition for films like Nope and Bones and All. We'd know they'd be getting their due in this year's HHoF, maybe with horror's newest superstar M3GAN sharing the stage with Robert Englund. 

I'd gladly take that over the Oscars any day.    

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