Posted by gregferrara on October 2, 2015
Have you ever heard anyone complain that “family drama” has been done to death? Whether it’s The Magnificent Ambersons, Ordinary People, or In the Bedroom, family drama has been around for a long time and accounted for a substantial amount of movies. How about war films? Ever heard someone say, “Oh no, not another war movie?” How about a good detective thriller? Political drama? Sports movie? Even the dreaded romantic comedy, aka the “Rom-Com,” doesn’t get the complaints that it’s done to death. Oh, people may hate them, but they don’t think there’s an overload. But mention zombies and, oh crikey, here we go. “Zombies? Oh, I can’t take anymore zombie movies!” In fact, every few years it seems like we tire of a specific subgenre of horror. The seventies gave us too many devil movies, the eighties into the nineties, too many vampire flicks, starting with Salem’s Lot on tv, moving into the comic horror of Fright Night, and culminating with Francis Ford Coppola’s romantic opera, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Also in the eighties we got slasher films and everyone got tired of those. But like any good horror monster, they keep coming because everyone knows, no matter how much we complain, we’ll always want more.
The problem with the more fantastical genres, like fantasy, science fiction, and horror, is that when you get one hit in them, everyone rushes to make another one just like it and, as a result, it’s not so much saturation as sameness. When that mold is broken, even slightly, it’s usually welcomed with a sigh of relief. Let’s go back to the zombies for a moment. Even though there are plenty of movies prior to 1968 concerning zombies of a different form than the modern kind we’re used to, it was then that Night of the Living Dead was released and that, more than anything else, has informed the zombie genre. The slow moving zombie, menacing the living alive, was the staple until more than three decades later when zombies became better, stronger, faster. The Six Million Dollar Zombie was born and with that, a renewed interest in the genre. Now the genre has success on both television and the silver screen to the point that it doesn’t even have to be about scaring anyone anymore. Can anyone honestly say they were scared by World War Z? And that’s not a hit against the movie, it’s that I don’t think it was ever intended to be scary. By the time of its production, zombies had graduated from shock monsters to cogs in an international thriller plot. And still, the complaints come. I see them online, on movie lists, articles, facebook posts, and twitter all the time. People constantly complaining about zombie movies. And yet, here we are.
Okay, so I haven’t tackled the question yet. Why do people complain so much more about the horror genre than any of the so-called straight genres, the ones that take place in the real world and employ real people, so to speak? Here’s where we go full bore into the realm of conjecture, mine. No, I don’t have anything to back up what I feel may be the case but I’ve never pretended my opinion on the world of cinema was ever more than that, opinion. And it is of my considered opinion that people have a very hard time seeing past the basic premise of the horror genre itself. For most people, a zombie is a zombie is a zombie. But it’s not and they’re not and we’re not here to just watch the same movie over and over. No one would expect every movie made about a family in turmoil to revolve around the death of a child, as in Ordinary People. No one would expect every war movie to revolve around soldiers in a prison camp building a bridge for their captors. No one would expect every sports movie to be about a little league baseball team that’s nothing but bad news. But many people seem to think a zombie movie should never be anything more than slow moving creatures, risen from the dead, terrorizing holed up normal folk just trying to survive the night.
Horror has so much more it can do than it’s already done and will continue to explore every avenue available to it as well as regurgitate what’s most popular again and again. But when people complain that we’re getting too much of the same thing, I don’t think many of them realize that this is what any evolving art form looks like. It means a lot of saturation, a lot of redundancy, and a little bit of innovation capped with occasional moments of brilliance and true originality. Those moments will then be copied and rehashed until someone else comes up with a new direction that adds one more layer to the ever evolving sub-genre at hand. I don’t care for Dracula as a romantic lead but I’m glad it’s been tried, and many more times than once. I prefer my vampires more monster-like but not so much they seem sub-human. I want them like Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula but I’m glad we have Mr. Barlow in Salem’s Lot. And even after a century of books, television, and movies, I bet the vampire sub-genre has barely been scratched. The great film Let the Right One In, remade as Let Me In, did things a little differently and it’s become one of my favorite vampire movies, and just one of my favorite movies period. There’s more to come and more innovation to follow. That also means there’s a lot of dreck and shallow rip-offs, too, but that’s a part of the deal if the genre, or any genre, is to flourish. We can’t just let the right one in, we have to let them all in. In the meantime, let’s not complain about that, let’s celebrate it! To death.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Academy Awards Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art Direction Art in Movies Asians in Hollywood Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Black Film Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism Film Festival 2015 film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films About Gambling Films of the 1930s Films of the 1960s Films of the 1970s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Memorabilia Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Magazines Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals New Releases Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Russian Film Industry Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Set design/production design Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Spaghetti Westerns Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies U.S.S. Indianapolis Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies