See you later, alligator

By Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique

My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, I’ve been working in Hollywood as an entertainment reporter for more than 20 years now, with a specialty in movies. Within this specialty, I kind of specialized myself in horror movies. 

I always had something for horror films, and I’m pretty proud of it. When I was 6, scenes of Murnau’s Nosferatu broadcast on TV traumatized me. It was probably the starting point of my passion for horror movies. I must have seen The Exorcist 666 times, learned every line of dialogue in Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, explored every corner of the Nostromo, Alien spaceship…yes, I love horror.

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But when I was growing up, the language of horror movies was English. French genre horror movies were, at the time, really, really rare.

About 15 years ago, things changed. There was a real kind of new horror wave coming from France. An entire new generation of young filmmakers was appearing, and some of the French horror films were just amazing. We could talk about Martyrs by Pascal Laugier, A L’Intérieur by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, Ils by Xavier Palud and David Moreau, and the one that started everything: High Tension by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur.

High Tension is an incredibly tense survival movie set in the French countryside with an unforgettable final twist. This film traveled the globe, and it’s still seen today as a real genre classic by the fans.

Reacting to this new gory wave of French horror films, Hollywood did what it does best--have all those new directors to come work here and make movies for the American industry.

So they all came to try their luck in sunny California, and most of them failed. The ruthless Hollywood machine crushed them. They’re all still doing very interesting work, but back home.

All, except one. Alex Aja made it here. In the last 15 years, Alex has directed 6 American movies and produced half a dozen more, all genre movies. They’re all highly appreciated by the fans, and his remake of The Hills Have Eyes is even seen as one of the most important horror movies of the last 2 decades.

Through the years, I had the chance to follow him from film to film, from the set of Horns, where I spent a night surrounded by hundreds of snakes in a Canadian cavern, to the fake Vancouver hospital of Louis Drax, where bodies came back to life. I could never forget the bloody Havasu lake filled up with young ladies in bikinis and fake bodies eaten by Piranhas. Yes, it’s never a dull day when you follow Alex.

When I met him again in the editing room of his last movie, Crawl where alligators invade a Floridian flooded house and try to eat everyone inside, Alex was just finishing his film. And he looked just happy. He finished another very efficient horror flick that fans will just eat up when it’s released this summer. And again, he made his own movie.

That’s the secret of his American success. Alex Aja listens to the studios, he compromises sometimes, he takes notes, but at the end of the day, what we see on the screen is his vision of the story. And believe me, you have to be incredibly strong and determined to manage this, film after film, in Hollywood.

It’s probably because of this strength that Alex Aja, a young French director, is considered as one of the most important voices of genre cinema in Hollywood.

To learn more about the genre of French horror films, French director Alex Aja, and other happenings that define Francophone culture in America, read our blog, and tune in to our episodes of Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.

Exploring a diversity of culture entwined with the insatiable energy of New York’s theatres, the bright lights of Las Vegas Blvd, the inspirational beauty of Louisiana's bayous, and beyond - Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face at movie premieres. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE USA and never miss an episode!