Horror’s Powers of Ten

I have always had a fascination with how much can change in such a short span of time in one era, yet remained unchanged for years in another.  In 1973, American Graffiti presented a nostalgic past that no longer existed, a world from another time and place.  It took place a mere 11 years prior to its release.  11 years.  A movie taking place in 2001 or 02 wouldn’t look or feel that much different to what’s around us now.   Watching a sitcom from early in the 2000s, like Arrested Development, doesn’t look or feel a whole lot different than watching one from right now, like Parks and Recreation.  But watching Leave it to Beaver, from the early sixties, alongside All in the Family, from the early seventies, feels like two different universes.   How much has horror changed from one decade to the next?  Let’s examine horror’s powers of ten.*

Let’s go back a hundred years and pick up the trail there.  Yes, horror existed in cinema before 1912 and, no, this exercise isn’t intended to cover, in detail, every change to the genre in the last hundred years.  It is, instead, intended to highlight the changes that are, for me, a horror fan, the most noticeable.  To another horror fan, there may be different benchmarks and I would invite such a fan to list their own.  So now, let’s go back to 1912 and begin the journey forward, ten years by ten, until we reach the present.

In 1912, we were two years removed from Edison Studios’ filmed adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  It was a lackluster affair (seen here). A new horror film, also adapted from literature, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (seen here), wasn’t much better.  The cinema was having a tough time of it.  The necessary technologies were there to show transformations and horrible creatures but many of the people making the movies had little to no feel for the real nature of horror.  Both adaptations above felt like ways to cash in on the fantastical elements that might lure in audiences to spend money, not spiritual forays into the soul of horror.  In just ten years, that would change dramatically.

By 1922, we had Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) a great and formidable leap over what came before, and Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau’s beautiful and eerie reworking of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Neither of these films had a soulless feel to them and both (but especially, for my money, Nosferatu) felt different from the rest of cinema around them.  Caligari had the incredible set design but Nosferatu had a feel, something hard to pin down, but a feel nonetheless of a stillness, a disquiet, that few films after it have been able to achieve.

In 1932, we were one year removed from the greatest one-two punch the world of horror cinema had ever or would ever receive.  Universal released both Dracula, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi, in February, and Frankenstein, directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff, in November.  It was a defining moment for the genre and from that moment forward, the genre was on its own.  Before 1931, horror was a vague mix of the pseudo-supernatural and mystery, such as The Cat and the Canary.  Real horror, like Nosferatu, popped in and out of existence, never affecting wholesale change.  Universal made real horror – vampires, monsters, and other paranormal beasts – the bread and butter of the genre.  Paramount lent a hand with Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde that same year and the newly formed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences helped out, too, by awarding Best Actor to Fredric March, legitimizing the genre ever so slightly.  The Mummy, Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man would follow.

In 1942, real world horror had taken center stage with World War II and just a few years out from their heyday, the characters of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy were feeling a bit fatigued.  A new film, The Cat People, directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton, didn’t bother to show the monster but made the horror all the more real, and frightening, through suggestion and mood.   This was a seminal moment.  It confirmed that horror could rely on mood and atmosphere instead of special effects and makeup.  And what that confirmed was that, if done properly, a filmmaker could rely on the audience to do all the heavy lifting because rarely can anything a director shows on the screen match what the viewers have conjured up in their minds.

By 1952, the old Universal monsters were enjoying a nostalgic icon status.  Going back to the late forties, the great comedy team of Abbott and Costello used Universal’s horror icons as parody material in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.   Gothic was now old-school and movies like The Thing from Another World brought in both monsters from outer space and snappy dialogue that proved horror could be as witty and sharp, and scary, as anything out there.  Alongside aliens from outer space, mutants of all shapes and sizes (but especially sizes) became the new face of horror.  Movies like Godzilla and Them! exploited the horrors of the new atomic age by having creatures grow to enormous and destructive sizes.  And the cause wasn’t left up to anyone’s imagination.  Witness the closing lines of Them!:

Robert: Pat, if these monsters got started as a result of the first atomic bomb in 1945, what about all the others that have been exploded since then?

Dr. Pat Medford: I don’t know. 

Dr. Harold Medford:  Nobody knows, Robert. When Man entered the atomic age, he opened a door into a new world. What we’ll eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict. 

In 1962, Gothic had returned in a nostalgic fit of will by Hammer Studios and Roger Corman, both doing their level best to take the genre back to its roots and succeeding mightily.  Hammer, in particular, would produce some of the best horror movies ever made, including Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958) and Brides of Dracula (1962).  Of course, two years earlier Alfred Hitchcock had eviscerated his leading lady less than halfway through the film in a bloody spasm of bathroom violence in Psycho.  Horror would change again as mad killers took center stage.  Less than fifty years out from that crude rendition of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, horror was showing bloody murder in the shower and the lifeless body of its naked victim lying on the bathroom floor.

By 1972, horror had become an interesting mix of every possible style.  Gothic had been reinvented by Hammer to be more graphic and employ nudity.  Modern tales had taken Psycho‘s cue and let loose crazed killers with chainsaws.  Classic horror icons like Vincent Price had gone from Gothic tales to graphic tales like Theatre of Blood.  And four years earlier, two movies were released that would unleash new sub-genres into the mix, though not immediately.  First, George Romero introduced a new spin on zombies, no longer the sleeping slaves of horror’s yesteryear, but the dead, risen from the grave and hungry for human flesh.  Its influence was not immediately felt. Over forty years later, it is unavoidable.  The other movie, Rosemary’s Baby, brought the devil into focus as a viable villain for a new age.  Demons had long made their way into horror (including, of course, the superb Night of the Demon) but the devil was relegated to fantasy stories (The Devil and Daniel Webster, Heaven Can Wait) or the influence he had over witches who cursed entire towns in his name (City of the Dead).  Rosemary’s Baby turned the devil into Satan and used him for what he had always been:  The personification of pure evil.  Five years later, The Exorcist would bring the Satanic sub-genre into full-swing with The Omen bringing up the rear in 1976.

In 1982, horror was moving into new territory yet again but territory that felt like the old territory made bigger.  Poltergeist gave us the haunted house but added lots of splashy effects.  Halloween, four years prior, kept the mad killer sub-genre alive but with less exposition (Psycho, Black Christmas) and more killing.   But Halloween also furthered the theme of the helpless and hapless group of young people, gathered together for love and fun, being picked off one by one.  Friday the 13th and The Evil Dead would move the group to the woods and pump new life into the corn syrup based fake blood industry.   But something else came from Halloween and Friday the 13th:  the return of the iconic horror character.  For a long time, that was just the gothic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, et al) but now, with Michael Myers and Jason, a new cult was built around the evil characters themselves who would appear in movie after movie.  The eighties also gave us Freddie (A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984), Pinhead (Hellraiser, 1987) and Chucky (Child’s Play, 1988), characters that start out as the evil villain but quickly became the characters the audience “rooted” for, so to speak.

By 1992, horror had settled into a rather dull state of affairs.  The eighties formulas continued unabated until about halfway through the decade when, in reaction to it, a new form of self-aware or meta-horror, took the stage, with Wes Craven leading the way.  His New Nightmare made the actors from previous Nightmare films into real-life characters in the new film making a new Nightmare film.  A couple of years later, Craven directed the Kevin Williamson penned Scream and brought the teen slasher into the meta-sub-genre family.

In 2002, the effects of international horror cinema were finally being felt.  In the past, non-English language horror enjoyed minor success (Kwaidan, Eyes without a Face) but now international horror, in particular Asian horror, was enjoying success on a regular basis (Ringu, Ju-on, The Host) and being remade for American audiences.  Later in the decade, the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In would also enjoy success as an import and, later, as a remake.

At the same time, The Blair Witch Project single-handedly created a whole new “found-footage” sub-genre that has produced an uneven assortment of hits and misses.  The first Paranormal Activity had some great moments and Cloverfield found a way to cleverly combine found-footage with the rebirth of the monster movie, which had resurfaced (no pun intended) with a vengeance two years earlier with South Korea’s The Host.

Which brings us to now and the fact that horror seems to be a conglomeration of everything that came before.  Everything is ripe for reinvention, no one sub-genre dominates (though vampires and zombies have led the reinvention bandwagon) and meta-horror is becoming more meta than ever (Cabin in the Woods).   So where does that leave us?

Well, in just a little over a hundred years, horror has gone from a simplistic series of static literary adaptations to a complex assortment of impassioned productions the world over.  In only a hundred years it has begun to reinvent everything that came before in what could almost be seen as a reboot of the whole genre.   Horror has changed and developed dramatically in these hundred years but, somehow, feels as familiar as ever.  Modern classics like Ringu, Let the Right One In and The Host are just retellings of stories involving vengeful spirits, vampires and sea monsters.   Political commentary and self-awareness have crept into the picture but from the atomic mutation movies to the Abbott and Costello proto-meta outings, that’s been there a long time, too.  The next ten years could bring about nothing much but more of the same, like the eighties to the nineties transition, or it could bring about a sea-change, like the twenties to thirties transformation.  Whatever happens, one thing is for certain:  Horror will continue to thrive as long as people live in a world where fear and dread and heartbreak exist.  In such a world, where audiences need a release from the tensions of the workaday world, horror will continue to deliver the goods – times ten.

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*Watch the original (final 1977 version) Powers of Ten here, interact with it here and read about it here.

0 Response Horror’s Powers of Ten
Posted By Jenni : October 17, 2012 10:38 am

Tourneur’s Cat People, and to some extent The Leopard Man, are scarier to me due to what you wrote of, the mood set by the director, the building of suspense, relying on the audiences imaginations to bring out the thrills and chills. I appreciate a director aiming his film at the audience’s intelligence, without having to resort to more and more gore to shock them with.

Posted By Jenni : October 17, 2012 10:38 am

Tourneur’s Cat People, and to some extent The Leopard Man, are scarier to me due to what you wrote of, the mood set by the director, the building of suspense, relying on the audiences imaginations to bring out the thrills and chills. I appreciate a director aiming his film at the audience’s intelligence, without having to resort to more and more gore to shock them with.

Posted By miss vickie : October 17, 2012 11:23 am

Don’t forget the torture porn of the early 2000′s – Saw, Hostel, Captivity, etc. Also remakes/sequels of classic horror films – Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The House of Wax and The Hills Have Eyes.

Posted By miss vickie : October 17, 2012 11:23 am

Don’t forget the torture porn of the early 2000′s – Saw, Hostel, Captivity, etc. Also remakes/sequels of classic horror films – Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The House of Wax and The Hills Have Eyes.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 11:25 am

Vicki, the torture horror you mention certainly has had an impact but, to me at least, it feels more like an elaboration on the splatter/slasher flicks of before so I went with found footage and international horror as, for me at least, the more influential changes of the last decade.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 11:25 am

Vicki, the torture horror you mention certainly has had an impact but, to me at least, it feels more like an elaboration on the splatter/slasher flicks of before so I went with found footage and international horror as, for me at least, the more influential changes of the last decade.

Posted By Allen Hefner : October 17, 2012 12:36 pm

Let’s not forget the contribution, or perhaps the distraction, that computer generated imaging has made to the genre.

CGI can do anything the artist wants. It is limited only by the artist at the keyboard. Case in point, compare The Haunting (1963) with the remake by the same name in 1999. The 1963 version does not show a single apparition. In 1999, CGI allowed them to show everything. The 1963, black and white classic is by far much more horrifying. It relies on sound, lighting, camera angles, and the viewer’s imagination.

Posted By Allen Hefner : October 17, 2012 12:36 pm

Let’s not forget the contribution, or perhaps the distraction, that computer generated imaging has made to the genre.

CGI can do anything the artist wants. It is limited only by the artist at the keyboard. Case in point, compare The Haunting (1963) with the remake by the same name in 1999. The 1963 version does not show a single apparition. In 1999, CGI allowed them to show everything. The 1963, black and white classic is by far much more horrifying. It relies on sound, lighting, camera angles, and the viewer’s imagination.

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : October 17, 2012 1:17 pm

Much has been said of the debilitating effect CGI has had on audience imagination. I think at least as much can be attributed to the advent of ear-splitting Dolby sound that first appeared in the 70s and just got louder and louder. Why bother with artistic visuals and subtle music when you can induce the audience to jump with a violent assault on their eardrums?

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : October 17, 2012 1:17 pm

Much has been said of the debilitating effect CGI has had on audience imagination. I think at least as much can be attributed to the advent of ear-splitting Dolby sound that first appeared in the 70s and just got louder and louder. Why bother with artistic visuals and subtle music when you can induce the audience to jump with a violent assault on their eardrums?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 1:50 pm

Jenni, Allen and John: I think all of your comments touch on the same thing, that is, how much better horror works when it’s not relying (or over-relying, I should say) on effects. For me, it’s a problem long before CGI, too. I found the effects-heavy Poltergeist most effective when it was just the viewer wondering where the toy clown was. But the big, open porthole to hell, or the huge monster blocking the door? Or the house folding in on itself? Eh, it’s all too much. Creeping menace and dark, gnawing dread is so much better.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 1:50 pm

Jenni, Allen and John: I think all of your comments touch on the same thing, that is, how much better horror works when it’s not relying (or over-relying, I should say) on effects. For me, it’s a problem long before CGI, too. I found the effects-heavy Poltergeist most effective when it was just the viewer wondering where the toy clown was. But the big, open porthole to hell, or the huge monster blocking the door? Or the house folding in on itself? Eh, it’s all too much. Creeping menace and dark, gnawing dread is so much better.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 17, 2012 2:11 pm

Certainly, the Spielberg-Lucas axis is responsible for the Third Act “it ain’t over yet!” rollercoaster ride that is par for the course with almost any genre film these days. It’s become boring, at least for me, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when filmmakers go old school and fully realize their stories without necessarily going big.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 17, 2012 2:11 pm

Certainly, the Spielberg-Lucas axis is responsible for the Third Act “it ain’t over yet!” rollercoaster ride that is par for the course with almost any genre film these days. It’s become boring, at least for me, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when filmmakers go old school and fully realize their stories without necessarily going big.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 2:30 pm

It really is kind of expected now to end any horror, sci-fi, action, adventure, et al with a prolonged resolution that has at least three false endings. The showdowns I did last week exemplify movie climaxes measured in a couple of minutes screen time instead of the entire last third of the movie. Make it go away.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 2:30 pm

It really is kind of expected now to end any horror, sci-fi, action, adventure, et al with a prolonged resolution that has at least three false endings. The showdowns I did last week exemplify movie climaxes measured in a couple of minutes screen time instead of the entire last third of the movie. Make it go away.

Posted By Emgee : October 17, 2012 3:29 pm

Movies like The Haunting and The Innocents give me the creeps, slasher pics just make me sick. When the blood starts to flow, this viewer’s gotta go.
Hitchcock was right ( and cost effective) when he made Psycho in black and white, instead of color. He said that red blood would have been too gruesome. If he were to know he created an entire subgenre…..he’d be, yes, horrified.

Posted By Emgee : October 17, 2012 3:29 pm

Movies like The Haunting and The Innocents give me the creeps, slasher pics just make me sick. When the blood starts to flow, this viewer’s gotta go.
Hitchcock was right ( and cost effective) when he made Psycho in black and white, instead of color. He said that red blood would have been too gruesome. If he were to know he created an entire subgenre…..he’d be, yes, horrified.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 11:30 pm

Another purely aesthetic reason I’m glad he made it in black and white is that by modern standards it would look like bright red paint and not gory at all. In black and white it retains a disturbing and real power.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 17, 2012 11:30 pm

Another purely aesthetic reason I’m glad he made it in black and white is that by modern standards it would look like bright red paint and not gory at all. In black and white it retains a disturbing and real power.

Posted By Doug : October 18, 2012 12:49 am

I mentioned on another post here that I had just watched “Cabin In The Woods”-it was great, and as smart as most Whedon productions. If you haven’t yet watched it, I encourage you to give it a try.
I never gave ‘torture porn’ a chance, and somehow I don’t think I’ve missed anything.
Blair Witch Project got to me; as with the Paranormal Activity movies, mood and tension always trump gore.
I’m hearing good things about “Sinister” with Ethan Hawke. Next great? we shall see.

Posted By Doug : October 18, 2012 12:49 am

I mentioned on another post here that I had just watched “Cabin In The Woods”-it was great, and as smart as most Whedon productions. If you haven’t yet watched it, I encourage you to give it a try.
I never gave ‘torture porn’ a chance, and somehow I don’t think I’ve missed anything.
Blair Witch Project got to me; as with the Paranormal Activity movies, mood and tension always trump gore.
I’m hearing good things about “Sinister” with Ethan Hawke. Next great? we shall see.

Posted By swac44 : October 18, 2012 3:00 pm

Just curious about that movie Stairway to Heaven; do you mean Powell & Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death, which was retitled for its U.S. release, or maybe Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait, which featured Laird Cregar as the devilish “His Excellency”? Although it depicts the afterlife, I don’t remember the devil appearing in the P&P film, but it’s been a while since I’d seen it.

It’s probably also important to note the work of Lon Chaney as being a major factor of the shift between 1922 and 1932, along with the advent of sound. I’m guessing the makeup for Frankenstein would have looked very different if not for Chaney’s pioneering efforts in transforming the appearance of the human face on film in Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera. There’s also the story that Tod Browning wanted Chaney to play Dracula, before his untimely death, but despite Chaney’s mastery of onscreen menace, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Lugosi in the role after all these years.

Posted By swac44 : October 18, 2012 3:00 pm

Just curious about that movie Stairway to Heaven; do you mean Powell & Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death, which was retitled for its U.S. release, or maybe Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait, which featured Laird Cregar as the devilish “His Excellency”? Although it depicts the afterlife, I don’t remember the devil appearing in the P&P film, but it’s been a while since I’d seen it.

It’s probably also important to note the work of Lon Chaney as being a major factor of the shift between 1922 and 1932, along with the advent of sound. I’m guessing the makeup for Frankenstein would have looked very different if not for Chaney’s pioneering efforts in transforming the appearance of the human face on film in Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera. There’s also the story that Tod Browning wanted Chaney to play Dracula, before his untimely death, but despite Chaney’s mastery of onscreen menace, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Lugosi in the role after all these years.

Posted By Emgee : October 18, 2012 3:23 pm

“There’s also the story that Tod Browning wanted Chaney to play Dracula, before his untimely death”.
A true story; Chaney and Browning made several movies together, and my guess is that the untimely death of his friend caused Browning to do such a lacklustre job with Dracula. The actors credited cameraman Karl Freund with much of the direction of this movie, which might explain the uneven quality. It sags badly about halfway through.

Posted By Emgee : October 18, 2012 3:23 pm

“There’s also the story that Tod Browning wanted Chaney to play Dracula, before his untimely death”.
A true story; Chaney and Browning made several movies together, and my guess is that the untimely death of his friend caused Browning to do such a lacklustre job with Dracula. The actors credited cameraman Karl Freund with much of the direction of this movie, which might explain the uneven quality. It sags badly about halfway through.

Posted By franko : October 18, 2012 8:39 pm

Excellent.

Posted By franko : October 18, 2012 8:39 pm

Excellent.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 8:40 pm

Thanks.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 8:40 pm

Thanks.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 11:20 pm

swac, geez, thanks for catching that. Total brain fart. I was thinking of Laird Cregar in Heaven Can Wait but just watched Stairway to Heaven in the last few months again and it was on my mind.

Agreed, Chaney is incredibly important. I left out quite a lot, just concentrating on the stuff that I always associate with eras so come up with more if you can think of them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 11:20 pm

swac, geez, thanks for catching that. Total brain fart. I was thinking of Laird Cregar in Heaven Can Wait but just watched Stairway to Heaven in the last few months again and it was on my mind.

Agreed, Chaney is incredibly important. I left out quite a lot, just concentrating on the stuff that I always associate with eras so come up with more if you can think of them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 11:23 pm

Doug, the only part of Paranormal Activity I didn’t like were the multiple alternate and final endings. Frankly, while none were bad, I would’ve been happy with the incidents never becoming more than unexplained movements and shadows with the couple finally fleeing the house at the end. But it is amazing how much can be created from watching two people sleep for about two minutes and then suddenly see a shadow and the door move. Really creepy.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 11:23 pm

Doug, the only part of Paranormal Activity I didn’t like were the multiple alternate and final endings. Frankly, while none were bad, I would’ve been happy with the incidents never becoming more than unexplained movements and shadows with the couple finally fleeing the house at the end. But it is amazing how much can be created from watching two people sleep for about two minutes and then suddenly see a shadow and the door move. Really creepy.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 11:25 pm

Emgee, it doesn’t help that the play it’s based on is pretty creaky. I saw it performed once and it doesn’t play any better in person. The power of the novel is lost for much of the play. The best parts of the film are definitely the castle/Renfield scenes with the Count.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 18, 2012 11:25 pm

Emgee, it doesn’t help that the play it’s based on is pretty creaky. I saw it performed once and it doesn’t play any better in person. The power of the novel is lost for much of the play. The best parts of the film are definitely the castle/Renfield scenes with the Count.

Posted By Adam : October 19, 2012 7:40 pm

Pertaining to the idea that horror, really should be scary, I would say that Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Pulse’ would have to be the best horror film I have ever seen. It is both incredibly creepy (far beyond Ju-on and Ringu for me) and truly intelligent and unique.

Posted By Adam : October 19, 2012 7:40 pm

Pertaining to the idea that horror, really should be scary, I would say that Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Pulse’ would have to be the best horror film I have ever seen. It is both incredibly creepy (far beyond Ju-on and Ringu for me) and truly intelligent and unique.

Posted By fantomex9 : October 24, 2012 5:13 pm

@Greg Ferrara: The only version of Dracula that I’ve liked is the 1970 Count Dracula by Jess Franco with Soledad Miranda as Lucy Westerna, along with the 1992 version by Francis Ford Coppola; those are the ones that came close to the spirit and intent of the original novel by Bram Stoker (and let’s not forget the movies that Chris Lee made at Hammer Studios as the Count). The ‘classic’ film with Bela Lugosi leaves me cold.

@John Maddox Roberts: You should be thanking the people who made CGI technology manifest each and every day; if it weren’t for it, most of the impossible things that have been filmed and have yet to be filmed wouldn’t even be possible (or adapted in the case of a lot of science fiction novels/comic books/toys, etc. that couldn’t have ever been ever adapted in the past due to special effects limitations). I’m quite thankful that I’ve been able to see the impossible made possible (The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers the two Spider-Man trilogies, the Transformers movies, the recent Batman movies by Chris Nolan, the two Ghost Rider movies so far, the revitalized Star Wars and Star Trek movies, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy plus many more)-good or bad, live action or animated, I’ve been glad to see them all be brought to life by the miracle of CGI and all of the other advancements that came along with it, and I’m sure many young up-and-coming filmmakers that can’t afford big budgets are grateful for them, too. As cool and amazing as it may be to create things with a ton of latex and spirit gum, or to be able to light i a certain way to suggest mood, it’s also good to see the effects of said frightening creatures wreak havoc on the protagonists of a story, and also not to flinch away from what horror really is or can be-that’s the best thing about seeing movies and TV today, and in the future.

Posted By fantomex9 : October 24, 2012 5:13 pm

@Greg Ferrara: The only version of Dracula that I’ve liked is the 1970 Count Dracula by Jess Franco with Soledad Miranda as Lucy Westerna, along with the 1992 version by Francis Ford Coppola; those are the ones that came close to the spirit and intent of the original novel by Bram Stoker (and let’s not forget the movies that Chris Lee made at Hammer Studios as the Count). The ‘classic’ film with Bela Lugosi leaves me cold.

@John Maddox Roberts: You should be thanking the people who made CGI technology manifest each and every day; if it weren’t for it, most of the impossible things that have been filmed and have yet to be filmed wouldn’t even be possible (or adapted in the case of a lot of science fiction novels/comic books/toys, etc. that couldn’t have ever been ever adapted in the past due to special effects limitations). I’m quite thankful that I’ve been able to see the impossible made possible (The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers the two Spider-Man trilogies, the Transformers movies, the recent Batman movies by Chris Nolan, the two Ghost Rider movies so far, the revitalized Star Wars and Star Trek movies, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy plus many more)-good or bad, live action or animated, I’ve been glad to see them all be brought to life by the miracle of CGI and all of the other advancements that came along with it, and I’m sure many young up-and-coming filmmakers that can’t afford big budgets are grateful for them, too. As cool and amazing as it may be to create things with a ton of latex and spirit gum, or to be able to light i a certain way to suggest mood, it’s also good to see the effects of said frightening creatures wreak havoc on the protagonists of a story, and also not to flinch away from what horror really is or can be-that’s the best thing about seeing movies and TV today, and in the future.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 24, 2012 9:39 pm

fantomex9, good to see you again. I like the Hammer Horror of Dracula a lot even though it doesn’t even pretend to follow the story. And you’re not alone. The 1931 Dracula leaves a lot of people cold, myself included. I love Lugosi and Frye but the adaptation from the play is a weak one. It’s no one’s fault really, the play adaptation of the novel just isn’t that good.

I think John was making the point of audio cues being too loud more than CGI being bad although I take your point. Comic book movies and the Lord of the Rings movies, especially, seem impossible without the new technology. The Star Wars films could and did exist with old school tech but Lord of the Rings was relegated to animation because the elephants (Mûmakil) alone would have been impossible. They would have had to optically print real elephants combined with stop-actions riders (or something) and I can’t imagine it would have been convincing. I’ve come down on CGI many a time but in the end, I do appreciate how much it has contributed to modern sci-fi and fantasy cinema. Something like The Avengers is the best example of what CGI can do. Those interdimensional dragon ships were both awesome visually and convincing as well.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : October 24, 2012 9:39 pm

fantomex9, good to see you again. I like the Hammer Horror of Dracula a lot even though it doesn’t even pretend to follow the story. And you’re not alone. The 1931 Dracula leaves a lot of people cold, myself included. I love Lugosi and Frye but the adaptation from the play is a weak one. It’s no one’s fault really, the play adaptation of the novel just isn’t that good.

I think John was making the point of audio cues being too loud more than CGI being bad although I take your point. Comic book movies and the Lord of the Rings movies, especially, seem impossible without the new technology. The Star Wars films could and did exist with old school tech but Lord of the Rings was relegated to animation because the elephants (Mûmakil) alone would have been impossible. They would have had to optically print real elephants combined with stop-actions riders (or something) and I can’t imagine it would have been convincing. I’ve come down on CGI many a time but in the end, I do appreciate how much it has contributed to modern sci-fi and fantasy cinema. Something like The Avengers is the best example of what CGI can do. Those interdimensional dragon ships were both awesome visually and convincing as well.

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