The genre of horror has always been and will always be one of the few things I hold close to my heart. Perhaps it’s due to being 6’5 with wide shoulders, long arms and a mug not even a mother can love. Or maybe it’s as easy as I loved the adventure of being terrified as a youth. Much like family, I love horror films to pieces. Just to hate them back together again (stolen quote from a very wise friend).
Being an old man like myself has its perks. Well, one anyways. And that perk, my fellow Ghoulies, is that I got to live during the rise of horror. I believe I was the tender young age of six or seven watching the horror genius Stephen King’s work. Cujo, Christine, and Creepshow gave me nightmares as a kid. I loved every second of them too! Not sure if it was my crazy sense of adventure or my gluttony for punishment, but I was hooked and could not get enough.
The slasher horror genre came in during the late 70s and stayed strong throughout the 80s and into the 90s. These iconic, psychopathic monsters were known as role models to me. As sick as that may sound, hear me out. They were borderline invincible – what kid wouldn’t want that power? They stalked their prey which was terrifying enough, but what made these movies so scary was the shock of sudden appearances of the slasher or a body that would just show up.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is a horror masterpiece to smart fans! Not only does it use the same elements as the slasher, it adds loud sounds at critical moments to make you jump out of your seat! And adding the disclaimer in the beginning about true events really makes it the original “gotcha” horror film. Sort of like The Blair Witch Project, but we will get into that soon enough. The final thing I want to say about this particular film is the overall creepiness to it. For example the dinner scene, with the grandfather, his hammer and the bucket, sends chills down my spine every time.
I could go on for pages about the 80s and 90s, but I do have to submit this by a certain time. So we need to fast forward to the last 15 years or so. What goes up must come down, so I watched the decline and heartbreak of all that was unholy. Now a days slashers are all but gone, shock has for the most part run out of town and been replaced with three sub genres: gore, remakes, and the worst thing to ever happen to horror movies, “found footage.”
Found footage horror films are cheap, crappy, and extremely lazy in my humble opinion. The Blair Witch Project had started it all and fooled America. Every other pile of trash can kick rocks for all I care. Nothing like beating a dead horse… to death. (Do you see what I did there?) Give me a plot and a back story please and shoot the damn thing like a movie! The only post-Blair-Witch movie in this style I can call entertaining is As Above, So Below. If that particular one was shot correctly like a film should it would have been perfect! Thanks Hollywood, you screwed up again.
My next beef with Horror right now are the remakes. C’mon guys, write something original please. For this portion I am going to use the Rob Zombie Halloween films as example.
First and foremost, get off my back! I do enjoy them, but he destroyed my favorite part of the franchise. In the ’78 film the scariest thing about Michael Myers other than he was just a human was that he came from your typical family. He was just an evil person, a bad seed if you will. Zombie portrayed him as white trash and broken home who was picked on to the point of snapping. Is it bad? Not at all, I loved it. Was it Michael Myers? I don’t think so. You slap a new name on that puppy and I am hooked! Now don’t get me wrong. There are good remakes of horror flicks, but for every one that is good there are two that are terrible. Night of the Demons anyone?
Finally lets take a look at gore flicks. They are not even horror! They are gruesome, but watching someone cut fingers off isn’t scary, it’s gross! That’s completely different. Saw through Saw 25 aren’t scary. I will take the ’82 classic The Gate, which is PG-13, loaded with demons, satanic rituals, dead pets, and Stephen Dorff, over an R-rated movie with dirty needles, a puppet named Billy and Donnie Wahlberg any damn day.
With all this hate, I need to shed a little light. Sinister is the best horror movie in fifteen years, hands down, and here is why. Violence, sudden scare tactics, and the best hook in any film I’ve ever seen. The first 45 seconds are amazing and sucks any true horror fan right in. Follow it up with Cabin In The Woods, and a fantastic Evil Dead remake and folks, we have a step in the right direction. However, we are still in the weeds due to the things like the V/H/S trilogy and that movie that came out this summer about the haunted S.T.D. It Follows.
Upcoming movies show a bit of promise so long as Eli Roth calls out sick, the remakes aren’t due to lack of ideas, and the original pieces don’t extend past one sequel.