If there's one thing the media really loves to do, it's lump a bunch of barely-connected people into an ill-fitting group -- and then give that group a clever name. Whether it's The Rat Pack, The Brat Pack or The Splat Pack, I just get irked whenever a new "pack" makes it into the cultural lexicon. Oh, you're not familiar with that last one? Yeah, it's a moniker that's been given to a bunch of "new" horror filmmakers, one that seems to imply that these guys get together every weekend to smoke weed and watch Halloween 2 together.

According to a recent article in Time Magazine, one that seems to approach horror flicks the same way a prissy schoolmarm would approach some inappropriate comic books, the members of "The Splat Pack" are Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent), Alex Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes), Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects), and James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Darren Lynn Bousman of the Saw trilogy. (Apparently Wolf Creek director Greg McLean was part of the original pack, although he goes unmentioned in the Time article, probably because he hasn't made much money yet.)

But what do these guys have in common, really, other than the fact that they all make horror flicks? I see Americans, Brits, Aussies and a Frenchman in the mix, and while some of the guys are fresh-faced and 20-something, guys like Roth have been toiling away in backstage anonymity for years. Plus, c'mon, Rob Zombie is 42 years old, so how exactly does he tie in with these kids? And why is it that Neil Marshall never seems to be quoted in these articles? Is he just included because his horror movies are ... GOOD? Apparently the Splat Pack label was created by Alan Jones of Total Film, and I'm sure the guy's an absolute expert on horror flicks -- but labels create limits, exclusions and oversights. And, ultimately, articles like this one, I suppose. (Either way, I bet Jones bangs out a book called The Splat Pack by the end of 2008.)

The UK's Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance) is young and horror-heavy, so why isn't he a member of The Pack? Shouldn't (Dawn of the Dead screenwriter, Slither director) James Gunn be one of the den mothers? Lucky McKee has made only two feature films (May and The Woods), but they're both downright excellent pieces of horror. Why's he not a member? Uwe Boll's done a bunch of horror flicks that could be accurately described as " laden with torture," so why not throw him an invitation? You want a guy who loves the word splat? Try Jake West, the guy who directed Evil Aliens. Plus I read another article a while back in which Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) was considered a member of The SP! Now, if that guy can be considered some sort of "future of horror," I'll eat my hat.

The common themes among the Splat Packers are ... what? They all like horror movies, they don't shy away from intense chills, harsh themes or copious gore, and they're all carbon-based life forms, I guess. But really: Does anyone out there think the work of Eli Roth is even remotely similar to that of Neil Marshall? Does a Rob Zombie flick remind you of what was seen in, say, High Tension? I mean, if you're going to define a term, then define it. And as a big fan of just about all these movies, I just gotta scratch my head when I hear these guys lumped together in one basket.

And what happens when guys like Ryan Schifrin (Abominable), Adam Green (Hatchet), J.T. Petty (S&Man) Scott Glosserman (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon), Jon Levine (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane) and Adam Mason (Broken) start to make their way up the ranks? Will we have the arrival of Splat Pack 2: The New Generation? Back in the late '70s/early '80s, did we need a goofy little heading to remember names like Carpenter, Hooper, Craven, Dante, Landis and Cunningham?

Ultimately, I have no real point. I'd just seen the phrase "Splat Pack" one too many times and felt the need to vent. Opposing viewpoints are welcome, as long as they agree with my own opinions.
categories Cinematical