Well, folks, 2016 was a helluva roller coaster ride. Sluggish economic recovery. Sky-rocketing healthcare premiums. A mind-blowing federal deficit. Race riots and police shootings. Mall fights. Hate crime hoaxes. Business-killing bathroom bills.
And not to mention we had to endure the death of Prince of Gore H.G. LEWIS, the double whammy loss of CARRIE FISHER and DEBBIE REYNOLDS and that CLINT EASTWOOD death hoax.
Then there was that never-ending presidential election that played out like an apocalyptic episode of THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW starring two Bond movie villains accompanied by a chorus of non-stop screeching hysteria and feigned outrage.
A lady I work with insisted that Donald Trump grabbing America by the pussy was the first sign of Armageddon.
She wasn't joking.
I just told her nobody with a good car needed to be justified.
I don't know about you, but I need to sit down with a nice cup of chamomile tea and watch something redemptive like DOOR TO DOOR MANIAC.
But hey, it's a whole new year. Still, we're starting off 2017 as a bitterly divided nation - economically, politically, regionally, racially - so some serious healing needs to be done. Are Americans, as HUNTER S. THOMPSON once wrote " a nation of two-hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable"?
At this point, America seems more like the family in THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE - automated (and outsourced) out of business, barely surviving in squalor and lashing back in vain at the people who got fat off their labor and then tossed them aside.
But I'm cautiously optimistic. For all of our flaws, Americans are a pretty resilient bunch.
In the terrific book REGIONAL HORROR MOVIES, BRIAN ALBRIGHT highlights a particular kind of low-budget horror movie, all written, financed and produced by enterprising regional filmmakers far from the slimy tentacles of the studio system. They were (and are) an alternative to mainstream Hollywood with their own visions of America and their own system of distribution.
The studios may have had more money, but it was movies like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER that took no prisoners and sympathized with the plight of the working folks that Hollywood wants to forget.
And if taking the power of filmmaking medium out of the hands of the elite and giving it back to the people isn't populism in its best form, then I don't know what is.
So, folks, let's celebrate all things Made in America with two whole weeks of regional horror movies. I tell ya, this is gonna be the best thing that happened since we stole this country from the Indians.
Here's the line-up:
DON'T OPEN THE DOOR (1974) Texas
SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT (1979) Louisiana
BLOOD SALVAGE (1990) Georgia
FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (1987) Georgia
SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS (1971) Florida
ABBY (1974) Kentucky
BLOODLETTING (1997) Ohio
HOMEBODIES (1974) Ohio
BLOOD HARVEST (1987) Wisconsin
BLOOD MASSACRE (1991) Maryland
MALATESTA'S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (1973) Pennsylvania
I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970) New York
FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1974) New York
THE BOOGENS (1981) Utah
and a lagniappe for your trouble: MAFIA MASSACRE (1974) California
And blog along if you like. I don't know about you, but just reading those titles just makes me want to sing the national anthem.