I debated back and forth about whether or not to share this piece. This is the semester-long project I mentioned that I completed half of the night before it was due. I’m not one to usually publicly bash my work (since I believe half a designer’s job is selling their work even if they don’t love it themselves) but I’m sharing it because it was a great learning experience and I hope my readers can glean something useful from it even if I’m not personally thrilled about it.
I tackled the issue of horror movie remakes, focusing particularly on the spike between 1998 and 2010. I extensively researched horror movie remakes released in US theaters, when they were made, how many were made, and what horror sub-genre they fell under. The most prominent remakes – 65% to be exact – were slasher films and paranormal thrillers (ghosts, demons, evil spirits, etc). Why? Because they’re cheap and easy to make and have a built-in cult following guaranteed to turn up at the box office. B-movie slasher remakes have some of the smallest production budgets, yet end up busting the block with teens and nostalgic horror fans. The 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre worked on a measly $9.5 million budget, and raked in over $100 million. Maybe a financial success, but no surprise critics hated it (rating a 36% on RottenTomatoes). In fact, critics hate most remakes; the average rating for remakes being 36% vs 70% in favor of the original.
So if the mere mention of a remakes causes most critics and audiences to cringe, why do filmmakers keep making them? Well duh. Because despite our disgust and the awful reviews, we as moviegoers keep handing over our money to see them. So long as fans keep paying to see bad remakes, filmmakers will continue to butcher every classic horror movie we horror fans hold dear. As George A Romero once said, “Horror is the genre that never dies.” But over the years, the lack of creativity and prominence of money-hungry, ego-driven filmmakers has spawned a terrible monster of a trend that needs to be killed.
My initial system for this project was hand-drawn elements, to reference old horror movie posters that payed a certain attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship, unlike the cookie-cutter remakes today. This is where I think my project fell short. My research was fully developed, but my visual concept was not. I was too fixated on creating an old horror movie poster with a hand-illustrated classic monster and I don’t feel it really works for enhancing my message. If I were to redo this project (which I likely plan on doing), I’d like to hand-draw a classic slasher icon like Leatherface to better align with my information. It really just goes to show how important lesson #2 is. Develop strong concepts first! Then make graphics.
All in all, I’m not entirely disappointed with this project. I finally learned the valuable lesson that being a designer is much more than just making good-looking graphics. A weak concept can bring a well-designed project down. With that said, I’m definitely up for the challenge of making this a visually and conceptually successful infographic.
What lessons have you learned from unsuccessful projects?