C'mon Hollywood: Get back to the gore, Peter Jackson!
Sticking closely to shoe-string budgeted films and appropriately titled "splatstick" horror comedies, Peter Jackson wasn't exactly the biggest name being passed around the film community back in the day. It wasn't until he received recognition for his work on HEAVENLY CREATURES that he was able to break away from the cult director status he associated himself with and before long, he was on his way to directing one of the biggest and most influential film trilogies of all time.
Unfortunately, that initial spark I saw with his earlier work has fizzled out over the years and his newer material seems to be missing that special something. In actuality, I haven't thought any of his directorial efforts after the LOTR trilogy were all that great. KING KONG was overblown and miscast and THE LOVELY BONES was an uneven and sloppy adaptation and (while not the helmer) THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN totally bored me. Even the last two trips back to Middle Earth haven't been all that engaging, which totally sucks, since the original trilogy stands as one of my absolute favorites. All that may make me look a little pessimistic, but gone is that magic I felt watching his original, independent films (much less the grandiose powerhouse that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS).
Even with his early works like BAD TASTE and THE FRIGHTENERS, it's easy to see that one of the defining aspects to Jackson's filmmaking is his love for special effects, but lately, the computer generated effects in his films have gotten a little excessive. With KING KONG and the last two Hobbit films, the obvious use of green screens and computer-generated characters makes his movies feel a little too artificial. Obviously, I don't need a JURASSIC PARK style Smaug (but, f*ck, wouldn't that be awesome?) and there's nothing wrong when utilizing C.G.I. as a tool, but ever since THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, there's been more computer effects and less practical ones. C'mon, Peter! Wasn't George Lucas and his prequels warning enough? Complaints aside, I still feel that Jackson is a wickedly talented dude, but I think he should backtrack a bit by stepping away from the mega-budget productions for a little and returning to where he got his rise to fame: horror.
Anyone who’s seen his underground masterpiece DEAD ALIVE (also known as BRAINDEAD) knows how creative Mr. Jackson is and his "do a lot with a little" work ethic is extremely obvious. The movie is one of the most excessively gory films ever made, but it's done with such gleeful disregard for anything (except for making us laugh and cringe, of course), it's hard to be unaffected by the charm of it all. One of the aspects that makes the movie so cool is how it uses puppets, stop motion animation and visual tricks as its special effects. Everything is done practically and that allotted for some of the most creative and amusingly over-the-top kills I've ever seen, even to this day. That kind of humor in a horror film is hard to pin down, but it's something that Jackson has mastered and with his access to money these days (the film cost only $3 million to make) I can't help but imagine the bloody possibilities.
As much as I'd like to see him direct something new, perhaps focusing his efforts on producing could be a good avenue for him to take, too. Hell, Peter Jackson produced DISTRICT 9, one of my favorite science fiction films and seeing him dip his hands in material like that again would be epic. Sticking to what Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton do would be my preference, though. It seems like those two produce projects that cater to their own tastes and those situations allow for lesser-known directors to show off what they've got and get a lot of attention (Burton basically kickstarted Henry Selick's career after producing A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and helped bring the visually exciting 9 to theaters). Guillermo was the executive producer for MAMA and the beautiful horror film THE ORPHANAGE and while he wasn't necessarily the creative force behind these projects, he was able to get them off the ground and see theatrical releases. With Peter Jackson having been apart of fantasy, horror and science fiction, I'd love to see him be apart of a project in one of those categories. If he still won't let the fantasy angle go, maybe he could get behind something darker and more realistic. With the success of GAME OF THRONES, that's where the genre seems to be tonally right now, and seeing him produce something along those lines could be supremely badass.
So C'mon, Hollywood! Get Peter Jackson to return to horror. THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN is due this December and after that, Jackson won't have J.R.R. Tolkien's material to go back to again. With his sense of humor, creativity and obvious love for the craft, I want to see him do what he was doing before the monumental success of LOTR. Is it insane of me want this award winning filmmaker to return to gore-centric horror films? Yeah, probably, but next to Sam Raimi, I think Pete's the only guy that can bring us a madcap horror comedy that not only packs on the laughs, but the gore, too and that’s something I think we could use a lot more of.
|Extra Tidbit:||What would you guys like to see Peter do after The Hobbit's all said and done? A sequel to District 9, perhaps?|