In defense of the AFI over their horror snub.

Posted by Peter Hall - June 19th 2008 @ 4:57 pm

Many a horror fans were dutifully pissed when the American Film Institute aired a new special Tuesday night dropping names for the Top 10 films of 10 different genres.  The genre’s the AFI honored did not include horror, but did include: Animation, Romantic comedies, Western, Sports, Mystery, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Gangster, Courtroom Drama, and Epic.

I’m not offended that horror got the cold shoulder – not even considering the unexpected inclusion/invention of a “Courtroom Drama” genre.  Likewise, however, I don’t want horror fans to give the cold shoulder to the AFI.  No one outside of the D.C. area will find this relevant, but I do live in the area and thus am granted the privilege of having the AFI Silver theater within driving distance.

Now I know that there are revivalist theaters peppered around the country, some that show horror with greater regularity, which renders this a tad less unique, but I find it hard to declare an entire institution does not take the horror genre seriously when they use their only theater to bring our genre’s treasures back to the big screen.  A theater that only has 3 screens in it, one might want to also point out. 

Just this past week, the AFI Silver screened FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III in its original 3D.  A few weeks earlier, you could have caught several Hitchcock masterpieces.  A few weeks before that was an entire David Lynch retrospective, equipped with encore screenings of ERASERHEAD.  Two years ago I missed a Cronenberg retrospective because I was at college, but as soon as I came back I was hitting up a midnight show of EVIL DEAD 2.  For last Halloween, the AFI not only played a vintage print of NOSFERATU, but had a live orchestra to accompany it.  They brought over a print of THE ORPHANAGE, months before it had its stateside run as well.  And those very few are just off the top of my head.

So I feel a twinge when I hear that the AFI shuns horror.  Lists are lists, changing lists is the whole point of making lists.   Lists, regardless of the author, always have the futility of an adult mayfly.  When it comes to respecting the horror genre, the American Film Institute is a champion in my book.  Despite what was on CBS the other night, I think they proved that when they ran a Sam Raimi splatterfest the same weekend as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA*, in their flagship theater no less.

*Seeing this in 75mm, by the way, is a film lover must.  I’m counting down the days til they bring it back every Sunday this summer.

comments are closed
  1. June 19th, 2008 | 6:12 pm | #1

    But their list is legitimacy to a genre that needs it.

  2. Sean
    June 19th, 2008 | 9:55 pm | #2

    I wish I could go something like that.

    I dont think there’s even a movie theater that does revivals, the closest I get is Halloween showing on Halloween.

  3. June 20th, 2008 | 7:59 am | #3

    I promised myself I wouldn’t post anywhere about these pointless lists. If people have such a hard-on for these dumb things, they should remember that Horror films were included in AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Thrills.…_100_Thrills

    Someone, even the AFI, writing a top ten list doesn’t make “Gangster” movies any more or less relevant or legitimate. Much ado about nothing.

  4. R.J. Sayer
    June 20th, 2008 | 8:19 am | #4

    uhm… i just saw HALLOWEEN in 35mm on the huge screen at the Aero on sunday.


    AFI can STILL kiss my ass.

  5. Sean
    June 20th, 2008 | 8:19 am | #5

    I think it doesn’t really matter what site you go to to get horror greats, there’s always going to be contention about it.

    The one that got me started on reading lists was retrocrush, with it’s edition.

    I don’t really see how a list is going to garner attention for a genre, though.

  6. R.J. Sayer
    June 20th, 2008 | 8:19 am | #6


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