This is the first meta-horror movie I remember. If you recall, the movie series is done, but it turns out that it was the only thing keeping the archetypal evil spirit represented by Freddie Kruger contained. So he bursts forth from fiction to wreak his special brand of havoc on the real world. I think I liked this movie quite a bit when it came out, though I remember watching it about a year ago and not loving it so much. But, it's an important one.
Now here's where it starts getting good. The premise of Scream is that there's a killer following the rules of a slasher flick, and if you want to survive, you'd better know the rules, too. This movie was loaded with 90's sassiness, but boy does it hold up.
Scream 2 increased the meta factor by having some action revolving around a movie based on the events of Scream called Stab. But upping the meta doesn't necessarily make for a good movie. The first scene was incredibly promising––one of my all-time faves––but the rest sucked.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Here we got the combination of the meta-horror movie with the also-self-conscious Blair-Witch style mockumentary. Brilliant! I'm not going to say they pulled it off perfectly, but it's an entertaining and smart flick. When it turns into a straight-up slasher it slips a bit, but still, very worth a watch.
This movie shouldn't even be on the list with the rest. It offers nothing new, and it's incredibly bad. I mean, it's really bad, even for a bad horror movie. It does star Winnie Cooper, though. I thought she was some sort of genius. So what's up with this?
My Name Is Bruce
Man, I love Bruce Campbell. That's not exactly a controversial statement, because who doesn't?
Oh, all those people who have no idea who he is...
But we horror nerds, we do. We love him. WELOVEHIM. In this movie, the sort of ancient horror Bruce Campbell characters battle invades the real world, and his biggest fan captures him, believing Bruce contains some of his characters' badassity. Of course he does; he's fucking Bruce Campbell!
This movie is interesting, because while it's quite entertaining if you like Bruce, it's totally unwatchable if you don't. This brings up an interesting meta-movie quality: it can satisfy the knowledgeable without necessarily being good.
Anyone could like Scream. In fact, that's what we horror fans have never forgiven it for. It invited preppies and jocks and other normal people into our basement club. It's more enjoyable if you know a lot about horror, but it's not required.
Behind the Mask is probably only going to be enjoyed by someone who's pretty familiar with the conventions of horror movies, but you don't need to be obsessive.
But My Name is Bruce? It's unwatchable unless you're a big Bruce Campbell fan. If you don't get the references, if you don't like the man, the movie sucks.
This is the most intense movie I've seen in a long time. It's very definite meta-horror. But it's not a mockumentary. At least, 80% of it isn't. It's a real documentary about the horror underground. These are film versions of splatterpunk: low-quality porn for violence fetishists. It's a smart documentary, but what makes it special is that as it interviews creators and academics who theorize, it puts those theories to the test by having one fictional component about a filmmaker the documentarian supposedly met while attending conventions who makes low-budget stalk-and-kill movies that are a little too real.
An academic talks about different theories of horror, and one she mentions is viewer-as-masochist, and this movie definitely tests that. But it's pretty brilliant. This is one of those movies that, even though it's pomo, challenges the notion that there's nothing new under the sun.
It's hard to say I enjoyed watching it, but if you're a horror fan, I don't know how you couldn't watch it.