THE HORROR GENRE IS F*CKING DEAD TO ME!!!FACT!!!
Editor's Note: Although this opinion piece published nine years ago at Talkbacker, CTM's exposition, is worthy of reading, especially if you're a fan of the Horror genre.
I’M A LIFELONG HORROR FAN BUT, FOR ME, 1988 WAS THE LAST TRULY GREAT YEAR OF THE GENRE!!! PHANTASM 2, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4, HALLOWEEN 4, HELLRAISER 2, SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2, CHILDS PLAY, THE BLOB REMAKE!!! IMHO, 1978-1988 WAS WHEN HORROR PEAKED…..
And yes, I’m aware that most of those movies mentioned above were sequels and one remake, but they were all good sequels and a good remake. But after 88 it was all downhill from there. More and more movie theaters were closing (leaving only the corporate theater chains) because of VCR’s not to mention that the fucking M.P.A.A. conspired with the major studios to kill off most of the low budget independents, which specialized in Horror movies, by forcing them to cut more and more while Hollywood was given a free pass to do whatever the fuck they wanted. I remember reading in the late 80′s and early 90′s how make-up effects guys were despairing over the fact that they would design or plan all sorts of elaborate splatter and gore effects, only for them to be cut from the script or the final movie because of the fascists at the M.P.A.A.!
But getting back to what I said, 78-88 was the best time for Horror. Sure, there were some good and even a few GREAT Horror movies made before and after that time, but the genre was at its best during that ten-year period. Make-up and visual effects were advancing, and it seemed to spark off a lot of creativity and inspiration. That era also helped to make Fangoria my beloved magazine of choice as they reported on soo many fucking awesome movies! I lost my entire collection of Fango in a fire several years ago and I miss those magazines soo fucking much! But after 88 it all came down; The franchises started putting out one shitty sequel after another (Nightmare 5, Halloween 5, Friday the 13th 8, Phantasm 3, Hellraiser 3, Robocop 2, Predator 2, Alien 3 etc….) and there were fewer and fewer crazy low budget flicks being made because of, as I said, Hollywood’s consolidation of the market. You were lucky if you got one good Horror movie a year and, ironically, it was the major studio’s that were putting them out (Pet Sematary in 89, Misery in 90, Silence of the Lambs in 1991, Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992, Interview with the Vampire in 1994 and a few others…).
But the independents had given up for the most part and even Hollywood stopped doing big budget Horror as time went on. Some people will say “What about the Horror boom after Scream, Blair Witch and the Sixth Sense BLAH BLAH BLAH?!?”. But Scream was a slasher film, and slashers are cheap to make. That’s why there were dozens made after Scream’s success. Blair Witch sparked off a million-camcorder rip-off’s, not to mention that Blair Witch was itself a rip-off of “found footage” Horror moves like Cannibal Holocaust which had done it, and done it better, almost 20 years earlier. The Sixth Sense also did nothing but inspired a plethora of ghost movies which could be done on the cheap.
I have to say that with a few (very few) exceptions, the Horror genre has been right in the fucking shitter for the last ten years, if not the last 20. But the last decade or so has been truly fucking awful. The fucking J-Horror obsession of the early Naughts, primarily done because they were ghost movies that could be cheaply made ala The Sixth Sense and that they were remakes which required little or no original thought which is always a plus for Hollywood. We’re still feeling the effects of Blair Witch every time one of these fucking wretched Paranormal Activity movies are released or another piece of shit-shot-on-hand-held-video-pile-of-dog-vomit like it is shoveled out to the mindless morons of America like food pellets being given to lab rats.
The Torture Porn craze lacked the sleazy and lurid charm of its predecessors like Blood Feast or the rest of H.G. Lewis’ back catalog and normally the M.P.A.A. would go fucking apeshit if you tried to get an R-rating for a low budget Horror movie like Saw (released by a low budget indie no less!) and they’d go at it like Edward Scissorhands on methamphetamines. So I have to wonder if their lax attitude towards the Saw and Hostel movies had something to do with the revelations that the USA was torturing prisoners of War and they allowed those movies to slide in order to help make the idea of torture more permissive to the American public, never mind the fact that they let Mel Gibson release The Passion of the Christ practically uncut which might as well have been re-titled I Spit On Your Cross as I saw a movie less about the spiritual salvation of mankind than a snuff film on par with Bloodsucking Freaks. But the M.P.A.A. has always been polluted with the worst type of Religious and Political “we know what’s best” fascists.
But even torture porn has waned in popularity and now Hollywood has reached its endgame of endlessly remaking every fucking movie in existence. I’ve said this before but I have no problem with remakes as they can be masterpiece’s (The Thing (1982), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Fly (1986), Scarface (1983)) or even just really good (The Blob (1988), Night of the Living Dead (1990)) but I can’t say that there has been a single remake done over the last ten years that I’ve enjoyed and that’s because there’s no inspiration behind any of them. Even something like Piranha 3D, probably the best remake of the last decade, lured me in with the promise of tits and gore but it felt perfunctory and even at a slim 88 minutes it struggled to keep my attention. This is because there was no skill displayed in creating anything resembling mood or atmosphere. Gore and nudity are always welcome, but it doesn’t take talent to do it. The Friday the 13th series wasn’t great art but the best of them managed to give off a feeling of unease and suspense. They also managed to give you protagonists that, although thinly written, were also sympathetic enough for you to care about them. The characters in Piranha 3D were either bland as fuck or obnoxious fratboy douchebags and watching them was like waiting for a cow to be shoved into a slaughterhouse for my entertainment. Except that I like cows and don’t wish for them to die, but I do find them delicious, so fuck you cow!
Another thing, look at the major franchises of the last decade; Resident Evil, Saw, Final Destination, Paranormal Activity, Underworld. Between these five franchises there are 25 movies. TWENTY-FIVE!!! And there is not a single fucking decent movie amongst them. I don’t own any of them on any format nor do I even have any of them on my computer, that’s right, I can’t even be bothered to steal them. Compare these wretched fucking movies to the franchised flicks I do have….
A Nightmare on Elm Street 1,2,3,4,5
Friday the 13th pt. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Hellraiser 1, 2
Sleepaway Camp 1,2
Re-animator 1, 2
Evil Dead 1,2,3,
Blind Dead 1,2,3,4
Terminator 1,2 Critters 1,2
Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead
Food of the Gods 1,2
Prom Night 1,2
Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal
Ilsa: She Wolf of the S.S. 1,2,3
Night of the Demons 1,2
Return of the Living Dead 1,2,3
Dr. Phibes 1,2
The Gate 1,2
Toxic Avenger 1,4
And it’s not like all the sequels I’ve listed are that good but even the worst of them are better and more entertaining than any of the fucking trash that the fucking morons of today make and watch. I think I’m harsh on today’s shit because I know how hard it was to make movies in the past and there is NO fucking excuse for shitty movies today given the advancements in digital technology. Oh, and don’t even start on about CGI because there’s NOTHING wrong with it if used properly. For instance, I was watching the recent Thing remake and I LOVE some of the creature shit they did that could have only been done with CGI. The problem is, of course, that it was used to do a pointless remake/prequel of a near perfect film. The other problem is that it was Directed like it was a fucking action movie which is yet another problem with today’s horror movies; they have no mood, atmosphere, tension or suspense.
Carnival of Souls is fifty years old this year and it’s still a masterpiece. Know why? It’s because despite its weak script, cheapness, shitty acting etc… it has incredible mood, atmosphere and ambience purely through its sound design and score. Today’s Horror movie makers would do well to study a movie like Carnival of Souls which will be remembered for another fifty years while all of the Resident Evil, Saw, Final Destination, Paranormal Activity and Underworld flicks will be soon forgotten.
Then there is the flood of “found footage” movies coming out these days. It’s nothing more than a technique and, like any technique, if overused it becomes irritating just like John Woo’s slo-motion or Paul Greengrass’ shaky cam bullshit. The ONLY reason why we’ve been plastered with found footage movies since 1999 is because of the Blair Witch Project which was an insufferable blast of diarrhea to the fucking face of anyone who calls themselves a Horror fan. But it made 250 million on a 50k budget so we will NEVER see the end of this annoying fucking sub-genre because it’s too tempting for every wannabe moviemaking jerkoff with no money and imagination while studio scum will back them because they cost fuck all. And they will continue to make money because of the fucking braindead asswipes that flock to them like flies to shit. But why do people go to see them? Well, it’s because “reality TV” (which started with Big Brother back in the late 90′s) became commonplace over the last decade or so and represents the heart of Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” not to mention the lure of easy money. That’s all these found footage movies are, people chasing after a buck. Now, I’m not going to claim that every Horror movie before or since Blair Witch was made with high minded ideals but the best of them is, at the very least, well made.
These fucking things just aren’t any fucking good and I don’t know how anyone could defend this fucking tripe unless they were a complete and utter drooling fucking spastic fucktard with their fucking hydrocephalic melon rammed up their fucking shitpipe!!!
The success of recent Horror flicks like Insidious 2 and The Conjuring gives me the impression that the general public wants safe movies that make them jump but nothing that truly disturbs them. Great Horror movies of the past had those scare moments but also delivered compelling stories, good characters or just even some technical expertise!!! I’m just not seeing any of that which leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness and despair which is what I should be feeling in the fucking theater, not when looking at the trailers of what passes for Horror in this era!!!FACT!!!