The horror? The horror?

Drag MeI sometimes wonder why I’m a horror fan.  Can I be the only MonsterKid, the only TerrorGeek, the only FrightFreak who thinks 95% of every title included in the genre is crap?  That’s how it seems on some days, invariably after I’ve watched something new.  My wife and I were very excited to get Sam Raimi’s DRAG ME TO HELL (2008) from Netflix last weekend and we saved it for Saturday night, after the kids were in bed – the closest thing we’ve got to a date night these days.  If you aren’t familiar with the movie, it marks Sam Raimi’s return to the slam-dunk horror game since his EVIL DEAD triptych (1981-1991) and deals in many of the same themes – ancient curses, long-withheld secrets, and an unwitting modern day victim who is forced to rise above his or her fear to become either a desperate wretch or a mythic hero (depending on how you look at it).  So, we were psyched… yet within five minutes we knew we were in trouble.  The overreliance on CGI (to depict the fires of Hell), rather obvious wire work and a screenplay as generic as an airport lavatory sign came together to put our shared guard up.  We looked at one another, we arched our eyebrows and furrowed our brows, and one of us might have harumphed. We sat through the thing and, while not hating it, while not being enraged by its shortcomings, we both felt that DRAG ME TO HELL was  about on par with an episode of THE GHOST WHISPERER, with a slightly more downbeat ending.  In thinking about the film over the course of the next few days, I was forced to put the film’s failure down to middle aged doldrums.  Sam Raimi was a hungry young punk when he made THE EVIL DEAD with his college friends, and was forced to finish the film himself when his crew, who had had enough of the miserable working conditions, abandoned the location; now in his 50s and wealthy beyond his wildest Michigan dreams, Raimi (who has earned every penny in solid workmanship and tenacity) sits back and allows technicians to pull out the stops.  The effect is controlled, contained, safe… and boring.

Scream, drewI felt the same way about Wes Craven’s SCREAM (1996) over a decade ago.  I had loved, and been greatly disturbed by Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), thought his DEADLY BLESSING (1981) was a nifty supernatural shocker with a brilliantly uncommon setting, retained fondness for the silly SWAMP THING (1982), considered THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988) his best work at the time and thought highly of NEW NIGHTMARE (1994) even though I never had much use for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) or its sequels.  (I hadn’t yet seen Craven’s 1972 gut-puncher, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, which I value but don’t particularly like.)  So I was predisposed to appreciate SCREAM and its sidebar into recursive, self-reflexive, meta-horror… but for me this one was dead on arrival – and not in a good way!  Stylistically uneven, smug to the nth degree and not a quarter as incisive as it thought it was, SCREAM bored me to the point of but just short of tears. Of course, it was huge, did big business, spawned two sequels to date and a host of imitators, and I have dear friends, people I consider to be pretty sharp, who loved, loved, loved it and continue to sing the film’s praises.  So all I can do is shrug and look again at my numbers.  And they’re not good.

sawv

I wonder why I consider myself a horror film fan when I dislike most of what constitutes horror movies.  The situation is especially bad now on the independent level, where the relative affordability of digital cameras has beget a legion or six of do-it-yourselfers who think a few friends from the neighborhood and a bucket of cosmetic blood equals a descent into the maelstrom.  Another problem is the horror fanbase, which is more larded with enablers, yes-men and hangers-on than a sack full of Hollywoods, while horror-themed review websites soft pedal the inferiority of these films to ensure on-set visitation rights, celebrity interviews and news exclusives.  Even if we ignore the glut of pointless remakes (FRIDAY THE 13TH, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, BLACK CHRISTMAS, PROM NIGHT, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS) and endless franchise sequels (SAW I-VI) from the majors we’re left with twenty slew of indie turds employing second and third string actors for marquee value (and by “marquee” I mean the shelves of Best Buy’s sci-fi & horror section, on which the After Dark Film Fest’s ongoing “8 Films to Die For” series squeezes out almost everything else) and boasting special effects more rubbery than last week’s vindaloo; even when a film attempts something more thoughtful and stylish, nine times out of ten it fails for me as half-thought-out, a good try in a doomed cause, close but no cigar.  It’s a dispiriting state of affairs for a horror guy and it makes me wonder why I even think of myself as a horror guy anymore.  On a film by film basis, I probably like more westerns, more combat pictures, more love stories than I do horror movies.  So why don’t I tag myself as a fan of war movies or rom-coms?

Eyes withoutIt has something to do with the air.  I don’t know if I can explain it any better than that.  When horror is good, when you’re intrigued and involved and taken out of yourself, when a film puts you into a non-judgmental state of mind, when you’re uprooted, upended, upset, when you’re reduced to a child-like state of curiosity, wonder or terror… the air crackles above your head.  You can almost smell the electricity.  When characters are allowed to be themselves and not just projections of the author’s ideas about people, when they earn the right to be our surrogates, to allow us to live vicariously through their investigations or misfortunes or misdeeds, when their screams are our screams and their fates our fates, horror is the best party in town.  Like a lot of grumpy old men, I’m following my bliss these days to old movies – and I don’t mean movies from the 80s, as far too many people are defining “old” these days.  I’m talking about the seminal texts, the Universal monster movies of the 30s and 40s, the big bug terrors of the 50s, the more psychologically-seeded spooks of the 60s, and the unbridled full-on excesses of the 70s.  I’ve recently gone back and rewatched scenes from THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957), CALTIKI – THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (1959), CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962), THE BIRDS (1963), ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE (1963), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968),  LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971), THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973), THE EXORCIST (1973)- among other films – just to get my heart started again.  Modern eyes might find these old films stodgy or boring (I get that a lot) but to me there’s nothing quite so boring as pointlessness, which so many new horror films are.  I recently watched a 2008 hospital-set horror film that borrowed heavily from Georges Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960) but, even with the benefit of being made almost 50 years later, was less incisive, less observant, less transgressive and less frightening than its inspiration.  Thank your stars the slackers cranking out horrorproduct half a century (or more) after the classics don’t work for NASA; we’d be sending astronauts up in egg crates.

carnival001

But I don’t want to go on about what doesn’t work for me.  Halloween is just a week or so away so I want to spend the remainder of this wondrously witchy season in an appreciative, thankful mindset.  It doesn’t take a genius to make a good horror movie – a lot of the guys who directed monster movies or fright films in the past had no particular passion for the genre.  They were doing a job but as craftsman they brought their innate curiosity and sensitivity to the game.  When that equation worked, we got classics of the likes I’ve already mentioned.  When those abilities didn’t quite come together in the proper alignment, we got sub-classics that are still more interesting and watchable now than most of what comes out of the horror pipe these days.  At their worst, the old movies understood that the key to a good scare was location, location, location.  And by that I don’t mean real estate.  The masters found the sweet spot in our communal headspace where actuality meets uncertainty, where all bets are off, where souls are lost, reason sleeps, and monsters rise.  When two roads diverge in the yellow wood of our collective unconscious, you can all go off to see Jigsaw and Leatherface and Freddy without me.  I’m headed for Castle Dracula or Frankenstein’s laboratory or Skull Island.  That’s where lightning splits the sky, where the graveyard trembles and coughs up ancient horrors.  That’s where dinosaurs rule and monsters challenge the earth  That’s where I live.

48 Responses The horror? The horror?
Posted By Basht : October 23, 2009 3:06 pm

I’m only 23 and i agree completely. I love my old horror films (the key word there is films) from a time when how scary a picture was wasn’t determined by how much gore is shown. Though, my favorite recent horrow film was Let The Right One In.

Posted By Basht : October 23, 2009 3:06 pm

I’m only 23 and i agree completely. I love my old horror films (the key word there is films) from a time when how scary a picture was wasn’t determined by how much gore is shown. Though, my favorite recent horrow film was Let The Right One In.

Posted By Greg F : October 23, 2009 3:59 pm

I put a post up on THE BIRDS a couple of days ago breaking down the sheer genius of the setup of the crow attack on the school. When I rewatched it I thought how ineffective it would be today because a modern director would have a major attack after only, say, fifteen minutes and then one after another until the conclusion. But THE BIRDS has but a small handful of bird attack scenes (only three consequential ones) and an ending that is sublime to these eyes. With few exceptions, I don’t get that kind of restraint in today’s horror.

Posted By Greg F : October 23, 2009 3:59 pm

I put a post up on THE BIRDS a couple of days ago breaking down the sheer genius of the setup of the crow attack on the school. When I rewatched it I thought how ineffective it would be today because a modern director would have a major attack after only, say, fifteen minutes and then one after another until the conclusion. But THE BIRDS has but a small handful of bird attack scenes (only three consequential ones) and an ending that is sublime to these eyes. With few exceptions, I don’t get that kind of restraint in today’s horror.

Posted By notbad : October 23, 2009 3:59 pm

No, you are not alone! I, too, consider myself a lover of all that is horror and find it increasingly difficult to find a modern horror film that’s not absolute crap.

I think you’ve nailed down the problems with today’s horror films. They all seem to be, as you mentioned, pointless remakes (of classics or better made Japanese films) or wretchedly formulaic or laden with poor CGI, poor plot, poor characters, poor writing, poor everything. Even the “masters” who once made unforgettable films (Carpenter, Craven, Romero, Hooper, Argento, Gordon, etc) haven’t made anything truly noteworthy in recent years.

Every October, I binge on horror movies and this year, like you, I’ve gone back to old films from the ’30s through the ’70s. However, I’m only 36 and haven’t considered myself to be a grumpy old man but perhaps I am. I would rather watch a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, drenched in all of it’s cheap and cheesy gore, than a big-budget, computer-generated “horror” film. Like in most horror films, I’m sure there is a subtext here that represents a larger problem or change in the culture. I just hope it’s not permanent.

Posted By notbad : October 23, 2009 3:59 pm

No, you are not alone! I, too, consider myself a lover of all that is horror and find it increasingly difficult to find a modern horror film that’s not absolute crap.

I think you’ve nailed down the problems with today’s horror films. They all seem to be, as you mentioned, pointless remakes (of classics or better made Japanese films) or wretchedly formulaic or laden with poor CGI, poor plot, poor characters, poor writing, poor everything. Even the “masters” who once made unforgettable films (Carpenter, Craven, Romero, Hooper, Argento, Gordon, etc) haven’t made anything truly noteworthy in recent years.

Every October, I binge on horror movies and this year, like you, I’ve gone back to old films from the ’30s through the ’70s. However, I’m only 36 and haven’t considered myself to be a grumpy old man but perhaps I am. I would rather watch a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, drenched in all of it’s cheap and cheesy gore, than a big-budget, computer-generated “horror” film. Like in most horror films, I’m sure there is a subtext here that represents a larger problem or change in the culture. I just hope it’s not permanent.

Posted By Steven Schultz : October 23, 2009 4:02 pm

I suspect that horror films are generally less effective on older (and wiser) audiences. Film-goers of a certain age have seen too much of the real world and know that reality is the true horror. Nothing in a fictional story and projected images can compare with war, genocide, murder, terror attacks, lethal viral infections, bankruptcy or a personal health crisis. Not to mention all the elemental things on Earth that will kill you if given the chance; none of which involve zombies or demons.

Posted By Steven Schultz : October 23, 2009 4:02 pm

I suspect that horror films are generally less effective on older (and wiser) audiences. Film-goers of a certain age have seen too much of the real world and know that reality is the true horror. Nothing in a fictional story and projected images can compare with war, genocide, murder, terror attacks, lethal viral infections, bankruptcy or a personal health crisis. Not to mention all the elemental things on Earth that will kill you if given the chance; none of which involve zombies or demons.

Posted By Mark S. : October 23, 2009 4:56 pm

Drag Me to Hell was rather amusing, I thought, but it was highly referential to the 1980s movies that you’re not fond of. Likewise, Scream isn’t as much fun if you haven’t already taken to heart serial slasher movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th. For some reason, horror movies seem particularly prone to giving nods to their predecessors.

The last interesting idea I can remember for a horror movie was Final Destination, where someone decided to try and make a slasher movie without the slasher.

I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of horror movies that they’re getting more and more hard to take seriously. People face so many real threats these days that supernatural threats just don’t pack the same punch.

Posted By Mark S. : October 23, 2009 4:56 pm

Drag Me to Hell was rather amusing, I thought, but it was highly referential to the 1980s movies that you’re not fond of. Likewise, Scream isn’t as much fun if you haven’t already taken to heart serial slasher movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th. For some reason, horror movies seem particularly prone to giving nods to their predecessors.

The last interesting idea I can remember for a horror movie was Final Destination, where someone decided to try and make a slasher movie without the slasher.

I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of horror movies that they’re getting more and more hard to take seriously. People face so many real threats these days that supernatural threats just don’t pack the same punch.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 23, 2009 6:07 pm

I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of horror movies that they’re getting more and more hard to take seriously. People face so many real threats these days that supernatural threats just don’t pack the same punch.

I consider that a failure of imagination, Mark. The horror movies of the 20s and 30s had the inspiration – and the competition of World War I and the influenza pandemic of 1918 that killed more people in 6 months than AIDS has in a quarter of a century. In every era, the horror genre has gone up against estimable real life competition (World War II, the atom age, the Cold War, Vietnam, political assassinations) but for some reason when things got relatively calm and easy (in the 1980s), horror started to pull its punches. And it’s not a matter of blood by the gallon, as the body counts actually went up during this time, but of heart, of sincerity. Although all evidence seems to be to the contrary, we believe we see, sense, and think more acutely than any generation before us, that we are immune to vanity, pomp, and denial, and for that reason we refuse to take our made-up horrors seriously unless they couch themselves in an absolute verite that actually goes against the aesthetic of the fantastic. But snark isn’t the whole of the problem now, just one of its symptoms. I could go on and on about where I think we fail in crafting horrors for the New Millennium… but maybe I’ll write a book instead.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 23, 2009 6:07 pm

I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of horror movies that they’re getting more and more hard to take seriously. People face so many real threats these days that supernatural threats just don’t pack the same punch.

I consider that a failure of imagination, Mark. The horror movies of the 20s and 30s had the inspiration – and the competition of World War I and the influenza pandemic of 1918 that killed more people in 6 months than AIDS has in a quarter of a century. In every era, the horror genre has gone up against estimable real life competition (World War II, the atom age, the Cold War, Vietnam, political assassinations) but for some reason when things got relatively calm and easy (in the 1980s), horror started to pull its punches. And it’s not a matter of blood by the gallon, as the body counts actually went up during this time, but of heart, of sincerity. Although all evidence seems to be to the contrary, we believe we see, sense, and think more acutely than any generation before us, that we are immune to vanity, pomp, and denial, and for that reason we refuse to take our made-up horrors seriously unless they couch themselves in an absolute verite that actually goes against the aesthetic of the fantastic. But snark isn’t the whole of the problem now, just one of its symptoms. I could go on and on about where I think we fail in crafting horrors for the New Millennium… but maybe I’ll write a book instead.

Posted By suzidoll : October 23, 2009 11:29 pm

Great assessment of the current state of horror. With our horror series here at Facets and my own interest in the genre, I have been revisiting horror films from other eras. And, I think there is nothing coming out of Hollywood that is as remotely interesting at films from the past. I actually do like SCREAM and the slasher films that it pays hommage to, but very little in the past 10 years has really excited me. The last truly frightening film I saw was The Descent (and, it’s by an English director, I think). I also agree with you — the lack of sincerity in making the films, a byproduct of the corporate culture that now defines Hollywood, has much to do with it. If you write your book, I will buy it.

Posted By suzidoll : October 23, 2009 11:29 pm

Great assessment of the current state of horror. With our horror series here at Facets and my own interest in the genre, I have been revisiting horror films from other eras. And, I think there is nothing coming out of Hollywood that is as remotely interesting at films from the past. I actually do like SCREAM and the slasher films that it pays hommage to, but very little in the past 10 years has really excited me. The last truly frightening film I saw was The Descent (and, it’s by an English director, I think). I also agree with you — the lack of sincerity in making the films, a byproduct of the corporate culture that now defines Hollywood, has much to do with it. If you write your book, I will buy it.

Posted By medusamorlock : October 24, 2009 11:01 am

What do you think so far of what you’ve seen of the new Benicio Del Toro wolfman movie? I just watched a trailer…looks atmospheric, and he’s a great actor, at least!

Posted By medusamorlock : October 24, 2009 11:01 am

What do you think so far of what you’ve seen of the new Benicio Del Toro wolfman movie? I just watched a trailer…looks atmospheric, and he’s a great actor, at least!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 24, 2009 12:12 pm

I haven’t watched the trailer for The Wolfman but I’m eager to see it and eagerer to like it. But will I?

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 24, 2009 12:12 pm

I haven’t watched the trailer for The Wolfman but I’m eager to see it and eagerer to like it. But will I?

Posted By Buggy Jones : October 24, 2009 1:05 pm

For the guy that said Final Destination was the last interesting idea he’s come across, that idea was lifted from at least a couple of earlier films. At least 2 from the ’80s, Sole Survivor and another one I can’t remember.

Both deal with someone or a group that was supposed to die but didn’t and death coming back and trying to kill them through accidents.

The biggest problem I see with all these indie films is that they all seem to copy the style, or lack thereof, each other and not so much the movies that the crew grew up on and were inspired from.

That’s the real tragedy. While Ed Wood may be rated a poor director, he still makes better films than most of these indie piles of crap. Not better budget wise, and special effects are sometimes on par with his stuff, but the story, shots, and dialogue are still light years ahead of indie movies.

The indie stuff is really not much better than the stuff I’d make with friends in high school. No script, just a basic idea and a weekend to do it. Just because it’s fun making your movie doesn’t mean it’s good.

Unfortunately there’s a market for it and people either set the bar really low on what entertains them or they’re buying the stuff, saying how bad it is but then buying the next one because the artwork and plot description sound good. Execution is the part that always ends up failing and yet that’s what people forget when they’re buying the same crap over and over.

Posted By Buggy Jones : October 24, 2009 1:05 pm

For the guy that said Final Destination was the last interesting idea he’s come across, that idea was lifted from at least a couple of earlier films. At least 2 from the ’80s, Sole Survivor and another one I can’t remember.

Both deal with someone or a group that was supposed to die but didn’t and death coming back and trying to kill them through accidents.

The biggest problem I see with all these indie films is that they all seem to copy the style, or lack thereof, each other and not so much the movies that the crew grew up on and were inspired from.

That’s the real tragedy. While Ed Wood may be rated a poor director, he still makes better films than most of these indie piles of crap. Not better budget wise, and special effects are sometimes on par with his stuff, but the story, shots, and dialogue are still light years ahead of indie movies.

The indie stuff is really not much better than the stuff I’d make with friends in high school. No script, just a basic idea and a weekend to do it. Just because it’s fun making your movie doesn’t mean it’s good.

Unfortunately there’s a market for it and people either set the bar really low on what entertains them or they’re buying the stuff, saying how bad it is but then buying the next one because the artwork and plot description sound good. Execution is the part that always ends up failing and yet that’s what people forget when they’re buying the same crap over and over.

Posted By Kevin : October 24, 2009 11:00 pm

I agree completely!! Modern day “horror” films are garbage that leave a very bad taste in my mouth. I haven’t seen but maybe 2 good horror films in the last 8 years. I have a huge collection of vintage horror and sci-fi films that I watch because I know I can count on them for entertainment.

Posted By Kevin : October 24, 2009 11:00 pm

I agree completely!! Modern day “horror” films are garbage that leave a very bad taste in my mouth. I haven’t seen but maybe 2 good horror films in the last 8 years. I have a huge collection of vintage horror and sci-fi films that I watch because I know I can count on them for entertainment.

Posted By Michael Sean : October 25, 2009 3:01 am

While I agree that the horror genre doesn’t seem as fruitful as it used to be, I think we need to keep in mind the sheer volume of product flooding the market. Good films are still being made, they’re just way outnumbered now. In the glory days of horror cinema there was a healthy b-movie/drive-in industry that produced plenty of forgettable trash, but that’s nothing compared to the direct-to-video market that sprang up in the 80s, which has exponentially grown since the arrival of DVDs in the 90s. I used to work at one of the chain rental stores and was constantly asked if there were any “good” horror films that had come out. Your identity crisis as a “horror guy” is shared by many. Even though the bad far outweighs the good, us horror fans continually keep the torch lit in hopes that the next one, or maybe the one after that, will be the film that reminds us why we got hooked in the first place. And it does happen, although nowhere near enough. Here’s a baker’s dozen of titles from the past ten years that did it for me. Some were scary, some just perfectly atmospheric, some more humorous, but all had enough of a spark for me to keep coming back to the well.

Sleepy Hollow (1999) d. Tim Burton
Ginger Snaps (2000) d. John Fawcett
The Others (2001) d. Alejandro Amenábar
28 Days Later (2002) d. Danny Boyle
Identity (2003) d. James Mangold
Dawn of the Dead (2004) d. Zack Snyder
The Descent (2005) d. Neil Marshall
Ils a.k.a. Them (2006) d. David Moreau & Xavier Palud
Murder Party (2007) d. Jeremy Saulnier
The Signal (2007) d. David Bruckner, Dan Bush & Jacob Gentry
The Mist (2007) d. frank Darabont
Eskalofrío a.k.a. Shiver (2008) d. Isidro Ortiz
Låt den rätte komma in a.k.a. Let the Right One In (2008) d. Tomas Alfredson

Posted By Michael Sean : October 25, 2009 3:01 am

While I agree that the horror genre doesn’t seem as fruitful as it used to be, I think we need to keep in mind the sheer volume of product flooding the market. Good films are still being made, they’re just way outnumbered now. In the glory days of horror cinema there was a healthy b-movie/drive-in industry that produced plenty of forgettable trash, but that’s nothing compared to the direct-to-video market that sprang up in the 80s, which has exponentially grown since the arrival of DVDs in the 90s. I used to work at one of the chain rental stores and was constantly asked if there were any “good” horror films that had come out. Your identity crisis as a “horror guy” is shared by many. Even though the bad far outweighs the good, us horror fans continually keep the torch lit in hopes that the next one, or maybe the one after that, will be the film that reminds us why we got hooked in the first place. And it does happen, although nowhere near enough. Here’s a baker’s dozen of titles from the past ten years that did it for me. Some were scary, some just perfectly atmospheric, some more humorous, but all had enough of a spark for me to keep coming back to the well.

Sleepy Hollow (1999) d. Tim Burton
Ginger Snaps (2000) d. John Fawcett
The Others (2001) d. Alejandro Amenábar
28 Days Later (2002) d. Danny Boyle
Identity (2003) d. James Mangold
Dawn of the Dead (2004) d. Zack Snyder
The Descent (2005) d. Neil Marshall
Ils a.k.a. Them (2006) d. David Moreau & Xavier Palud
Murder Party (2007) d. Jeremy Saulnier
The Signal (2007) d. David Bruckner, Dan Bush & Jacob Gentry
The Mist (2007) d. frank Darabont
Eskalofrío a.k.a. Shiver (2008) d. Isidro Ortiz
Låt den rätte komma in a.k.a. Let the Right One In (2008) d. Tomas Alfredson

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 25, 2009 7:52 pm

Another problem is the horror fanbase, which is more larded with enablers, yes-men and hangers-on than a sack full of Hollywoods, while horror-themed review websites soft pedal the inferiority of these films to ensure on-set visitation rights, celebrity interviews and news exclusives.

Bingo! Give this man a prize.

Personally I think the best horror films made in the last 10-20 years have come out of Asia, the UK and Europe. Sadly, American horror has been dead and buried for decades. Even the smallest spark of originality is often bogged down by lackluster actors and bad special effects.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 25, 2009 7:52 pm

Another problem is the horror fanbase, which is more larded with enablers, yes-men and hangers-on than a sack full of Hollywoods, while horror-themed review websites soft pedal the inferiority of these films to ensure on-set visitation rights, celebrity interviews and news exclusives.

Bingo! Give this man a prize.

Personally I think the best horror films made in the last 10-20 years have come out of Asia, the UK and Europe. Sadly, American horror has been dead and buried for decades. Even the smallest spark of originality is often bogged down by lackluster actors and bad special effects.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 25, 2009 7:55 pm

On a side note, I had no desire to see Drag Me to Hell because I thought the previews looked absolutely terrible. Thanks to your review, I will only see it if and when I stumble across it on TV one night when I’m suffering from insomnia.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 25, 2009 7:55 pm

On a side note, I had no desire to see Drag Me to Hell because I thought the previews looked absolutely terrible. Thanks to your review, I will only see it if and when I stumble across it on TV one night when I’m suffering from insomnia.

Posted By Kathryn : October 26, 2009 10:54 am

Happy to see some appreciation for “Carnival of Souls”! One of my favorite films and I’m proud to say that it was made in part at the film school I attended.

I’ve only recently become interested in horror films and I feel like the current cycle of gory horror aren’t frightening or intelligent, they’re just gratuitous. Even the latest horror films that don’t fit into this type are mostly boring and predictable.

I think films that rely on a sense of tension and a creepy ambiance are far scarier than those that rely on buckets of blood and ridiculous forms of torture.

Posted By Kathryn : October 26, 2009 10:54 am

Happy to see some appreciation for “Carnival of Souls”! One of my favorite films and I’m proud to say that it was made in part at the film school I attended.

I’ve only recently become interested in horror films and I feel like the current cycle of gory horror aren’t frightening or intelligent, they’re just gratuitous. Even the latest horror films that don’t fit into this type are mostly boring and predictable.

I think films that rely on a sense of tension and a creepy ambiance are far scarier than those that rely on buckets of blood and ridiculous forms of torture.

Posted By Rusty : October 26, 2009 11:25 am

I would like to re-watch some classic horror…Bride of Frankenstein, Eyes Without A Face, The Haunting. However, having watched two hundred and fifty horror movies…financed by Canadian taxpayers and “made for Sci-Fi channel” (sorry, “made for SYFY”) movies, I’m pretty sure I could not make it through any horror film not including:

a) at least one fabrication montage.
b) several “weapon up” scenes.
c) lots of clothing soiled with biological fluids.
d) many shock/relax (because it’s okay) moments.
e) really, really bad acting by the female lead.

Rusty

Posted By Rusty : October 26, 2009 11:25 am

I would like to re-watch some classic horror…Bride of Frankenstein, Eyes Without A Face, The Haunting. However, having watched two hundred and fifty horror movies…financed by Canadian taxpayers and “made for Sci-Fi channel” (sorry, “made for SYFY”) movies, I’m pretty sure I could not make it through any horror film not including:

a) at least one fabrication montage.
b) several “weapon up” scenes.
c) lots of clothing soiled with biological fluids.
d) many shock/relax (because it’s okay) moments.
e) really, really bad acting by the female lead.

Rusty

Posted By Tyrone : October 29, 2009 3:03 pm

Just like the TCM movie guide, you reek of limitated and victim thinking. Quarantined in your “trumped up-puffed up” life you should have rented more movies along those within your obvcious genre: ie. Gay interest

Posted By Tyrone : October 29, 2009 3:03 pm

Just like the TCM movie guide, you reek of limitated and victim thinking. Quarantined in your “trumped up-puffed up” life you should have rented more movies along those within your obvcious genre: ie. Gay interest

Posted By rhsmith : October 29, 2009 5:25 pm

Tyrone, I wouldn’t say that I’m “limitated,” because a.) I really don’t think I am and b.) there’s no such word.

If Tyrone’s thoughts have provoked interest among our readers, they might like to contact him directly at lutzmd@gmail.com.

Posted By rhsmith : October 29, 2009 5:25 pm

Tyrone, I wouldn’t say that I’m “limitated,” because a.) I really don’t think I am and b.) there’s no such word.

If Tyrone’s thoughts have provoked interest among our readers, they might like to contact him directly at lutzmd@gmail.com.

Posted By Richard Dishman : October 30, 2009 12:00 am

What an excellent post. I have been a horror fan since childhood and I was lucky enough to have been exposed via Shock Theater on TV to all of the Universal catalog. I never will forget the “shock of the new” the first time I saw Frankenstein, and later, Psycho, and Night of the Living Dead. I saw a lot of mediocre films from the 30′s through the 70′s as well. But I find so many recent horror films dull and/or vaguely depressing. I can’t agree with you more about Scream and Drag Me to Hell. Your list from the past includes some of my favorites. I will have to search out Caltiki. Still, some good newer movies still get made. I really like Ju-On (Japanese version), The Others, and Let the Right One In. Despite everything seeming to work against it, I will continue to hope that the best of this most exciting and compelling of film genres is yet to come.

Posted By Richard Dishman : October 30, 2009 12:00 am

What an excellent post. I have been a horror fan since childhood and I was lucky enough to have been exposed via Shock Theater on TV to all of the Universal catalog. I never will forget the “shock of the new” the first time I saw Frankenstein, and later, Psycho, and Night of the Living Dead. I saw a lot of mediocre films from the 30′s through the 70′s as well. But I find so many recent horror films dull and/or vaguely depressing. I can’t agree with you more about Scream and Drag Me to Hell. Your list from the past includes some of my favorites. I will have to search out Caltiki. Still, some good newer movies still get made. I really like Ju-On (Japanese version), The Others, and Let the Right One In. Despite everything seeming to work against it, I will continue to hope that the best of this most exciting and compelling of film genres is yet to come.

Posted By Jenni, St. Louis : October 30, 2009 8:44 pm

I do love the horror films that Universal created,and the films I watched on Saturday afternoons on Creature Feature,Channel 50,Detroit, in the 1970s. I think the truly scary movies are the ones where the monster/demonic activity/ghost aren’t revealed right away. Hitchcock’s Psycho is a wonderful example of this; actually watched it in college with a group of friends, and the one viewer who hadn’t seen it before was actually surprised at the ending, having been convinced by Hitch’s direction that Norman’s mother was the murderer. Also, atmosphere plays so much into a great horror movie. I think fondly of The Turn of the Screw when I think of atmosphere, and The Sixth Sense. One last point, is that I think modern horror directors have gotten lazy, and the movie studios have also. Big amounts of money talk, and the horror movies that are low on plot, acting, and high on gore pull in the youth market and their money. The studios just want to make money, so they create what will bring in the money. I think in the movie studio world of the old, directors, producers, studio moguls existed who really cared about the product, the art, that they were creating. Nowadays, it’s mostly about the money.

Posted By Jenni, St. Louis : October 30, 2009 8:44 pm

I do love the horror films that Universal created,and the films I watched on Saturday afternoons on Creature Feature,Channel 50,Detroit, in the 1970s. I think the truly scary movies are the ones where the monster/demonic activity/ghost aren’t revealed right away. Hitchcock’s Psycho is a wonderful example of this; actually watched it in college with a group of friends, and the one viewer who hadn’t seen it before was actually surprised at the ending, having been convinced by Hitch’s direction that Norman’s mother was the murderer. Also, atmosphere plays so much into a great horror movie. I think fondly of The Turn of the Screw when I think of atmosphere, and The Sixth Sense. One last point, is that I think modern horror directors have gotten lazy, and the movie studios have also. Big amounts of money talk, and the horror movies that are low on plot, acting, and high on gore pull in the youth market and their money. The studios just want to make money, so they create what will bring in the money. I think in the movie studio world of the old, directors, producers, studio moguls existed who really cared about the product, the art, that they were creating. Nowadays, it’s mostly about the money.

Posted By website design : November 5, 2009 9:36 am

I grew up watching the classic Universal horror films on cable in the 80s. I only knew one person in my immediate family and circle of friends who also watched them – my brother. MOst of my firends would hang out and sneak a peak later at night n HBO for the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels (half for the gore, half for the possibility of nudity). Though I am a horror movie fan, I’m convinced that the Elm Street movies were only scary when I was ten, because I didn’t know any better.

It was literally another ten plus years before I took the time out to watch Carpenter’s Halloween, and I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I would have if I had seen it before its cheap imitations.

I find most gore either ridiculous at best or, at worst, cheap and pointless. I often tell people that some of the scariest movies I’ve seen are not horror movies per se, but films like Blue Velvet orTaxi Driver. One of my favorites, the original Haunting, got me thinking: wouldn’t it be great to see a group of horror filmmakers, as a challenge, each make a film that has none of the usual suspects, in terms of gore or cheap “pop” thrills (like, say, a door slamming unexpectedly, a cat jumping out from nowhere, etc.), and just concentrated on the story itself?

Posted By website design : November 5, 2009 9:36 am

I grew up watching the classic Universal horror films on cable in the 80s. I only knew one person in my immediate family and circle of friends who also watched them – my brother. MOst of my firends would hang out and sneak a peak later at night n HBO for the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels (half for the gore, half for the possibility of nudity). Though I am a horror movie fan, I’m convinced that the Elm Street movies were only scary when I was ten, because I didn’t know any better.

It was literally another ten plus years before I took the time out to watch Carpenter’s Halloween, and I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I would have if I had seen it before its cheap imitations.

I find most gore either ridiculous at best or, at worst, cheap and pointless. I often tell people that some of the scariest movies I’ve seen are not horror movies per se, but films like Blue Velvet orTaxi Driver. One of my favorites, the original Haunting, got me thinking: wouldn’t it be great to see a group of horror filmmakers, as a challenge, each make a film that has none of the usual suspects, in terms of gore or cheap “pop” thrills (like, say, a door slamming unexpectedly, a cat jumping out from nowhere, etc.), and just concentrated on the story itself?

Posted By BornIn93′SoWhat? : December 23, 2009 4:33 pm

I’m sixteen. If possible I would be the Advocate Of Scream… had there been anything to scream about. As much as I adore horror films,I yearn to see one true to the genre’s nature. I say 97%, 98% If you count Jeeper’s Creepers, Freddy, most Jason films, the boogieman, and Darkness (Generic) Falls, as horror. The words scary or psychologically thrilling must have been replaced with the word porn in the latest Webster, just as I have seemed to be misplaced in the 90′s. I missed out on the awesome horror-hype from the previous decades.
By the way, this is to Basht. I liked Let The Right One In in a “The Little Vampire” type way (I really did like it, no sarcasm intended), but it was in no way spooky, just cute. The last movie I liked, I do not recall, but I am anticipating Daybreakers which is coming out 1/8/09 I believe. Oh, and excuse the way I talk por favor, I’m a bit of a geek…

Posted By BornIn93′SoWhat? : December 23, 2009 4:33 pm

I’m sixteen. If possible I would be the Advocate Of Scream… had there been anything to scream about. As much as I adore horror films,I yearn to see one true to the genre’s nature. I say 97%, 98% If you count Jeeper’s Creepers, Freddy, most Jason films, the boogieman, and Darkness (Generic) Falls, as horror. The words scary or psychologically thrilling must have been replaced with the word porn in the latest Webster, just as I have seemed to be misplaced in the 90′s. I missed out on the awesome horror-hype from the previous decades.
By the way, this is to Basht. I liked Let The Right One In in a “The Little Vampire” type way (I really did like it, no sarcasm intended), but it was in no way spooky, just cute. The last movie I liked, I do not recall, but I am anticipating Daybreakers which is coming out 1/8/09 I believe. Oh, and excuse the way I talk por favor, I’m a bit of a geek…

Posted By BornIn93′SoWhat? : December 23, 2009 4:49 pm

P.S.(Me again!), I tried to be scared by Lets Scare Jessica To Death, but I could only laugh because thats my name. Oh, an Rosemary’s Baby is just pure awesome. I watched Carrie as a baby so it rattled me up a bit (Rattled! Get it? Ha…I’m no comedian…), and I also love Fahrenheit 451 though not many people think it a horror film. Blah, blah, blah, I tend to ramble on and on don’t I?

Posted By BornIn93′SoWhat? : December 23, 2009 4:49 pm

P.S.(Me again!), I tried to be scared by Lets Scare Jessica To Death, but I could only laugh because thats my name. Oh, an Rosemary’s Baby is just pure awesome. I watched Carrie as a baby so it rattled me up a bit (Rattled! Get it? Ha…I’m no comedian…), and I also love Fahrenheit 451 though not many people think it a horror film. Blah, blah, blah, I tend to ramble on and on don’t I?

Posted By BornIn93′SoWhat? : December 23, 2009 4:52 pm

One more thing, excuse my many grammatical and typing mistakes! Typing on this PS3 is a fuss…

Posted By BornIn93′SoWhat? : December 23, 2009 4:52 pm

One more thing, excuse my many grammatical and typing mistakes! Typing on this PS3 is a fuss…

Leave a Reply

Current ye@r *

We regret to inform you that FilmStruck is now closed.  Our last day of service was November 29, 2018.

Please visit tcm.com/help for more information.

We would like to thank our many fans and loyal customers who supported us.  FilmStruck was truly a labor of love, and in a world with an abundance of entertainment options – THANK YOU for choosing us.