Well Shocktober is winding down so I thought I’d take a minute to discuss a question that’s been on my mind lately “Is the age of good horror movies over?” So often I hear horror fans speaking fearfully about the decline of horror movies but have the screams really become that much fainter? As the times have changed so has the landscape of the genre but despite what some may say I think it’s clear that there’s just as much potential for good horror movies as there has ever been.
Horror fans may romanticize the mid 70s or early 80s with such classics as; The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, but that doesn’t mean the 70s and 80s didn’t have it’s fair share of bad films. For every good horror movie there has ALWAYS been about ten bad ones at any given time. There may have been a great horror film released last year but these things take time, you have to wait and reflect on these films in the passing years.
As I just mentioned, many horror fans looks back quite fondly at the 70s and 80s, but that’s because they tend to only remember the good movies. People romanticize the past because they often choose to only remember the good things, really today is just as good as back then. If there ever truly was a golden age of horror it was probably the 30s (just as it was for most of cinema) and that was great while it lasted but times and trends change, things go in and out of style, and thus the genre is ever evolving.
Let’s take a look at genre today, I mean what’s really eating away at the fans? One of the most common complaints I see is a stronger focus on gore over other aspects. I don’t think anyone would argue that movies today are pretty bloody, but why is that? I’d say it has something to do with audiences becoming more desensitized to violence, and thus gory movies have become more commercially viable. People are used to gore now so it’s become common in many horror movies, but in a way hasn’t it always been? Herschell Gordon Lewis has been making blood soaked films since the 60s and don’t get me started with the kind of visceral imagery that Lucio Fulci put to film in the decade after that. So really gory movies aren’t anything new, people are just less shocked by them as they should be. So now you see filmmakers trying to push what we’ve already seen in the disgusting department to new levels. That may be good for some, but I’ll bet you a plump christmas goose that’s not the main reason most moviegoers go to horror movies. Plain and simple people want to be scared and I don’t think they care how it happens, as long as it’s done well.
Seeing that your typical horror fan is fairly open to anything they’ll see these hashed out gory movies, I mean there are only so many horror movies released in theaters each year. So this doesn’t mean that audiences aren’t open to different kinds of horror movies. Take for example Paranormal Activity; it’s low budget, not gory, not flashy, and yet it was a huge success that’s launched a popular franchise. On top of all this it even beat Saw VI on it’s own opening weekend. This shows that audiences aren’t simply drawn to the gore in the genre but to the act of being surprised and excited.
I’ve seen many of great horror movies come out of the 2000s. Just look at all the crazy shit Japan has cooked up since then? If you ask me some of the best foreign horror movies I’ve ever seen came out of the last ten years. Films like; The Host from South Korea, Rec from Spain, Shaun of the Dead from the UK, Let the Right One In from Sweden… and the list goes on. Of course there’s always been a thriving indie scene for any genre as well and that’s no exception within horror. There’s some great stuff out of there you just got to look for it, be brave, be experimental, that’s what it’s all about. I love horror movies but I refuse to live in the past when there’s so much I could be missing out on. I’m not sure why I wrote this post, I suppose I’m just annoyed by people online always complaining about \how bad modern entertainment has become, and so I decided to apply it to horror movies. Always look ahead monster movie fans, you might be surprised with what you’ll find.