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October 3, 2009

Family-friendly horror movies?

Will family-friendly horror movies take the place of slasher films and the like? Variety magazine seems to think that that is a possibility -- and at least one of the filmmakers leading the charge just happens to be a Christian.

The trade paper reports that Scott Derrickson, who has discussed his faith and filmmaking with CT Movies a couple of times, has signed on to direct a remake of the Danish grade-school thriller The Substitute for Spooky Pictures, a brand-new outfit set up by Sam Raimi and Columbia Pictures.

Derrickson has plenty of experience as a maker of horror movies for grown-ups -- among other things, he directed the R-rated Hellraiser: Inferno and the PG-13 The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which is also available on DVD in an "unrated" edition) -- but this new venture, according to Variety, is aimed at "family audiences".

The Substitute itself will concern "a terrified sixth-grade class as the students race to reveal to their parents that their new substitute teacher is an evil alien being."

Variety notes that Spooky Pictures is not the first family-oriented scary-movie brand to be created in recent months. Three weeks ago, the Disney studio announced that it had struck a deal with horror maestro Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, etc.) to create 'Disney Double Dare You', a new production label that will make "animated films full of chills and thrills for audiences of all ages".

Variety writer Marc Graser writes that the rise of these labels "signals the kind of thrillers Hollywood may soon be unspooling at the megaplex," and speculates: "Should the labels find an audience, the shift away from slasher fare and the like, often referred to as 'gore porn,' is likely."

Derrickson, for his part, has a number of other projects in development at the moment, including adaptations of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost and Dan Simmons's Hugo-winning sci-fi novel Hyperion Cantos; it remains to be seen which of these movies will get the green light first. His last film was the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keanu Reeves.

Related Tags: day the earth stood still, exorcism of emily rose, hellraiser, hyperion cantos, paradise lost, substitute, trollhunters


I'm very excited by this idea, especially with Guillermo Del Toro on board. I remember reading a lot of horror/thrillers as a kid that were *made* for kids, like 'Matilda', and 'Goosebumps', and Farley Mowat's 'Lost in the Barrens'. I remember reading a lot of horror that was made for everybody, like unedited Brothers Grimm, 'Alice in Wonderland', and 'Pinocchio'; that last one is still the scariest thing I've ever read. There were a lot of random, non-famous titles whose names escape me but were in the same vein as 'Lost in the Barrens'. 'The New Hardy Boys' books were in spirit like little kid versions of the current TV show 'Supernatural'. My late uncle gave me a marvelous book called 'An Illustrated Children's Treasury' full of thrills 'n chills in the form of folk tales, unedited snippets from classic books (like Pinocchio), and poems like 'The Ballad of Sam McGee' and 'The Highwayman'- all with full-colour illustrations both realistic and fantastical. I also remember learning early on the weird delight that comes from getting a good scare, and the paradox of those books being safe places to learn about fear and freedom from fear while also being a good source of entertainment.

What I can't remember is movies I was allowed to watch as a kid that had the same impact and taught the same lessons as those books. The grown-up horror movies I watched on the sly usually left me too intrigued by the language to notice anything else. I didn't really take anything away from those films at the time except the knowledge of which four letter words can be used as both nouns and adjectives (though 'Aliens', a fine figure of a horror film, did manage to be too much for me at the age of 12 - it was Pvt. Hudson's death that did me in for nightmares, and I couldn't watch 'Mad About You' anymore by association after seeing that film). I think it's a great idea to make horror films you can take your kids to - films are shared experiences in ways that books aren't, and I believe it's always better to learn basic life skills (like how to respond to frightening or anxious situations) in a group setting, especially one in which kids can learn from their parents. I'd enjoy such films too - horror seems to have crossed a new line of "I REALLY did not need to see that", and it would be nice to get a good new thrill without having to turn away every five minutes or risk having an image burned into my brain that haunts me for weeks.

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I personally think that Christians should avoid films which are fear based. God in Jesus came to cast out fear and not encourage it or should I say feed on it.
I am really sad to see so many films and TV progs' based on vampires and the supernatural which are evil.
Such movies must be easy to make as so many coming out these days.
In my opinion Christians would be be well advised to steer clear of things that emphasis the dark side and concentrate on things that are of good report etc

I love horror movies and Horror TV Shows online.

Saw VI was awesome and totally redeemed itself from sawV http://bit.ly/2ZJYRH

I think its a bad move. Horror movies aren't there to be family movies, that is not their purpose. They should be raw and pure, and the gore is part of it.

To try and make them decent and suitable for all ages, goes against the very nature of the true horror movie.

On a side note that director may have directed Hellraiser Inferno, but please also mention that this direct to video part, was deemed the worst of the Hellraiser series.

Well how will it fit together, a horror and family friendly. I mean they are totally the opposite. Interested in how will they put it together..