I’ve been trying to peg what aspect of the studio system is lacking the most, and it’s an impossible scenario. There are flaws everywhere, but it’s opened up these little side tangents of wondering what little nudges could be done to allow the moviegoing experience to be less of a corporate, generic affair.

I started to wonder who was out there making muscular genre movies that weren’t A-List but also not direct-to-video dreck. Some names came to mind.

Guys like Neil Marshall and John Singleton. Then there’s your Stephen Sommerses and Rob Cohenses and the like, directors who have genre capabilities making larger-scale studio pictures. Then there’s the folks like Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, and Sam Raimi. They are genre guys operating with the biggest toolboxes known to civilization.

For some reason it made me wish we had a Gary Sherman out there doing his thing. THEATRICALLY. There are people making the exploitation-style films but Sherman is a blue-collar filmmaker whose somewhat limited directorial output is filled with movies that helped guide my tastes and ones that for the most part, still hold up.

Dead and Buried. Vice Squad. The vastly underappreciated Wanted: Dead or Alive. I’ll forgive him the horrid Poltergeist III, since it’s obviously a tainted production. These are fun, meaty, and well-directed films and it makes me wonder why Sherman doesn’t get the same kind of love Fred Dekker does. These guys (along with W.D. Richter and many others) flew under the radar and made really fun, smaller mini-classics. No one has a film big enough to earn them the same love that goes to the Romero/Hooper/Carpenter camps (nor have they earned it), but they were glue in the 80’s.

Who’s the Gary Sherman of the 00’s? Hell, why aren’t we seeing Gary Sherman himself? Obviously, it’s rhetorical. The business doesn’t reward their kind of work. They are content to swing in smaller circles without massive reward, but are no less viable.

The business seems to have no time for the Gary Shermans of the world. Except in the crowded world of DTV. While that’ll pay the bills and occasionally allow premier ideas and execution to float to the top, the odds are against them. In a business where we see more and more folks emulate [poorly] what has now become the old school, the actual old school is sitting there alive and kicking and ready to deliver perfectly sublime B-greatness directly to our eyeballs.

And frankly, while all the film school kids are talking about Fellini and Melville and the like, they best be paying attention to the little guys whose work still stands small, but strong.

I drink to you, Gary Sherman.