When it comes to the list of people to watch for in the genre of horror Michael Dougherty’s name is definitely at the top. For those who are aware of his work he has with out a doubt earned the respect of fans and horror movie cinephiles alike.
His brilliant anthology Trick’R’Treat
released in 2007 was number 2 on “Watchmojo.com’s” Top 10 Horror Anthologies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Suf2Vlr9mHw
) right under the classic Stephen King and George A. Romero creation Creepshow
Trick’R’Treat is a flawlessly crafted compilation of 5 stories intertwined with characters and a common element of “Sam” who ensures the systematic punishment of anyone who breaks the coveted rules of Halloween. It has everything from a demented neighbor who kills unsuspecting children with poisoned candy, ghostly mentally disabled children resurrected to enact vengeance on bullies, to one of my favorites involving sultry female werewolves hunting unsuspecting men for a blood orgy as a hallows eve tradition. It even has an homage to a Tales from the Dark Side episode “Halloween Candy” which was directed by Mr. Horror himself Tom Savini, involving a cranky old man who is tortured into the participation of Halloween by a terrifying demon posing as a trick-or-treater.
His use of real special effects and limited computer graphics bring out the reality of his monsters and solidifies them in our nightmares. This is even more apparent in his newest creation Krampus which went above expectations in the box office despite the fact that is was released along with mega blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
His interpretation of the Ukrainian legend involving the shadow of Saint Nicholas is a beautifully crafted lesson in holiday spirit and horror that brings a Gremlin‘s type of feel to a traditional Christmas story.
The movie starts off with a young boy and his dysfunctional family, when he loses his faith and Christmas spirit he inadvertently (to all their peril) unleashes the dark essence of Krampus and his monstrous little helpers who set out to teach them all a valuable lesson on the season of giving. The horror aspect crosses an amazing sense of dread and dark comedy that adds to the the central story arch demonstrating the horrible punishments this family endures. I feel the most important facet is that the film does not necessarily end on a “happy” note, which to me is most important when it comes to a perfectly written horror film. I do not see horror films because I want to watch the characters walking off into the sunset together.
This maestro is an amazing writer with the ability to craft characters and story lines that keep us on the edge of our seat hoping to get a glimpse of the next beast he has tucked away in the closet. Even though the one blotch on his record technically can be considered Superman Returns (another victim of studio interference in my opinion) I do not count this against him as he has been able to prove his ability to develop an amazing comic based action as seen through his script for X-Men 2 released in 2003. I consider X2 one of the best in the franchise and the stylized directing by brilliant Bryan Singer along with the excellent story by Michael Doughtery made an amazing movie. The two did such a stunning job that Singer even brought Doughtery back to write the script for the upcoming X-Men:Apocalypse which brings to life one of Marvel’s greatest villains and his disciples aimed to destroy mankind and enslave the mutant population.
Other future writing projects include a highly anticipated (at least in the horror geek world) sequel to Trick’R’Treat and an adaptation of Glen Duncan’s novel I, Lucifer depicting the Morningstar himself given a second chance to enter back into heaven by proving he can behave in the body of a mortal man.
As an avid horror fan and a self stylized cinephile I am always excited to see Michael Dougherty’s name attached to a project in either writing or directing. I look forward to seeing what his ability will bring us in the future and some day hope to be writing an article on him with the title “Master of Horror.”