Arrow Video launched the first volume of their American Horror Project box sets with the truly ambitious goal of re-evaluating an “alternative history of American horror and film heritage.” The plan is to rescue, restore, and put back into the public consciousness a number of American horror movies overshadowed by the big names - Arrow identifies Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and A Nightmare on Elm Street - and to take a look at an alternative horror history that played out in the shadows of those recognizable names, just outside of the public eye.
It’s an eyebrow-raising endeavor, to say the least. As a diehard horror fan, I was thrilled by the idea of the American Horror Project as much by its scope as by its sheer guts. At the time of this writing, I have yet to see any of the three films in the first volume, but I’ve heard exciting things about Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood, The Witch Who Came From the Sea, and The Premonition - all titles I had never heard before, all ripe with promise. With an industry-wide horror renaissance on our hands allowing films like The Babadook, It Follows, and The Witch to prosper, and with companies like Arrow Video, Synapse Films, Scream Factory, and others catering to the collectors, it’s really a wonderful time to be a diehard horror fan.
The downside is the flack one still gets for admitting to horror fandom to those who aren’t. It’s the same flack that metal fans put up with, and it’s not too hard to find folks like myself with a foot firmly planted in both graves, taking flack from both sides and finding that both communities are stubbornly unyielding in what’s considered orthodox. Reactions can be hostile. It’s an awkward position. So-called “torture,” “torture porn,” or “gorno” horror, popularized by the Saw and Hostel franchises, persists as the whipping boy of the horror genre (you can decide for yourself whether the pun is intentional) despite mold-breaking efforts like the original Martyrs and Inside (À l'intérieur). Similarly, although things have begun to settle, metalcore remains a bad apple on the heavy metal family tree. It may never have had the shameless commercial ambitions of nu-metal, for instance, but many metalcore bands continue to struggle with being identified as such, and the response from the metal community at large is still pretty lukewarm.
And I don’t see why that should be. In regards to myself, I will always be a nu-metal apologist - there are bands that got it right that were unfairly overlooked, and perhaps further down the road, I’ll do for nu-metal something like what I hope to do here - but I see very little reason for anyone to have to be a metalcore apologist. For those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and internet connections, it should be pretty obvious that there are plenty of bands that got it right, and still do, to justify the legitimacy of this unfairly-maligned subgenre.
Apparently, it isn’t so obvious. So, working from a little cross-disciplinary inspiration, my aim is simply a metalhead’s version of Arrow’s: an American Horror Project for the doubtful, the curious, and even the converted.
Call it the American Metalcore Project.
Wherein Brian hilariously overanalyzes a subgenre of metal!