In 2022, horror films made over $700 million dollars in box office sales. So why, oh why, is the genre all but disregarded at major award ceremonies? Even recent “elevated horror” films (don’t get me started on that term) such as THE WITCH, THE BABADOOK, HEREDITARY, MIDSOMMAR, X, and PEARL—all of which delivered films and performances which at least deserved Oscar consideration, can’t catch the eye of The Academies of Self-Congratulatory Filmmakers Who Continuously Bestow Awards to the Same People Year After Year.
Enter the folks at FANGORIA Magazine. For horror fans far and wide, the FANGORIA CHAINSAW AWARDS are something to both look forward to and turn up our noses at. In some way, it’s just another reminder at the pointlessness and datedness of award ceremonies, yet in others, it’s nice to see creators get recognized for their work in a genre that is, more or less, poo-pooed by “cinephiles.” The ceremony, which originated in 1992, offers due attention to the worlds of “genre,” both mainstream and limited release. For this, it should be praised. However, it also lacks funding or mainstream appeal, and for this, it really suffers.
The voting process is appealing; fans vote for their favorite in each category. This “people’s choice” approach does well to unite the horror community, despite how divided we can be. We may not all like the outcome, but we do love seeing our favorite films of the last year included on a list of other nominees.
This year, the ceremony honored the horror films of 2022, of which there were many greats, including X, PEARL, PREY, ORPHAN: FIRST KILL, TERRIFIER 2, THE BLACK PHONE, BONES AND ALL, WATCHER, SPEAK NO EVIL, THE INNOCENTS, and even the divisive HALLOWEEN KILLS. While the majority of honorees accepted their awards via video submission, a handful of winners appeared in person on what must have been a very quick and tightly budgeted set. Here’s where the problem lies.
Hosted by horror drag icon Peaches Christ and (for some reason) actor/graphic novel creator David Dastmalchian, the ceremony suffers from having no live audience, bad writing, unevenness in tone, and a very apparently low production value. Even the likes of Peaches Christ, an experienced and talented emcee in her own right, couldn’t make these ham-fisted jokes land, and the lack of even a laugh track only made their painfulness sting all the more. Christ also used the format as an advertisement for her cult movie podcast, MIDNIGHT MASS, which I highly recommend listening to but could have lived without the constant “podcast placement” throughout the show. (Or maybe I’m just jealous my own horror podcast isn’t getting advertised to an international horror audience.)
Where the show lacked in laugh tracks, it more than made up for in canned applause. Actually, it was the same canned applause track used for Every. Single. Award. It’s surprising the sound designers couldn’t seem to be bothered to mix up at least a second one to alternate. The track ended with the same cheap-sounding scream sound every time—the kind of scream sound you might find coming from a cheap Halloween decoration from Spirit Halloween Store or on an old 90’s cassette tape of haunted house sounds. (OK, that sounds more appealing than it was. Believe me…it got old. Fast.)
Despite the overall feel of the production being a disappointment, the mere fact that the ceremony exists at all is what keeps me voting and tuning in year after year. These creators deserve recognition, and they deserve it from the fans of their work. If John Carpenter can make a video accepting an award for Best Score (HALLOWEEN KILLS), it tells horror fans they are seen and appreciated, while if Mia Goth can’t make an acceptance video for Best Performance (PEARL), it tells us she might not appreciate or understand her appeal to the horror community.
There were some good points: queer representation abounded and MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000’s Jonah Ray delivered a hilarious rag on how ridiculous the Amityville property has become. Oh, and THE BLACK PHONE surprisingly swept. That’s really it, unfortunately.
All in all, the ceremony is groan-worthy and unfunny. It’s poorly directed and designed. It’s painfully slow, even at 90 minutes. Yet if you’re a horror fan or someone who’s just curious, it makes for decent background noise while you try to find that old 90’s cassette tape of haunted house sounds you know you have lying around somewhere.
I watch in solidarity and in hopes that one year they’ll earn the budget to at least have an audience full of horror fans—why not film at a horror convention? Why not let me host? Why not? WHY NOT?!
THE FANGORIA CHAINSAW AWARDS 2022 are available to stream on SHUDDER.