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The Horror Genre: Are Horror Fans The Problem?

Herner Klenthur 27 Comments

I read a great article earlier in the week titled ‘F*ck You – An Open Letter to the Horror Community‘. Put plainly the article looked at the current state of indie film making and why so many up and coming talents are being marginalized because horror fans are refusing to embrace and support them.

Now I am paraphrasing a very long well thought out article but what I took from it is that fans who are card carrying horror fans who started their love for the horror movie genre with the likes of George Romero and Tobe Hooper are not doing their part to support the indie horror films being released today.

Its a solid argument if you look at the lack luster results of some of the best horror films of the last 10 years. The Human Centipede generated massive buzz and only managed to generate minimal results at the box office. MARTYRS is considered by many to be one of the most powerful horror movies of the last decade and many horror fans to date have never seen it. Toby Wilkins SPLINTER and Adam Greens SPIRAL are both two of the greatest indie horror films of our time yet how many have seen them?

Jamie Jenkins who used to write for our blog did a short film called Secret Shopper that is in a word mind blowing have you seen it or heard of it? You should answer yes if you read HM daily. Alex Ferrari did a very dark fantasy short film called Red Princess with special FX on par with Industrial Light and Magic and again… have you seen it or heard of it? If you are a long time reader of our site yes.

The Horror Genre: Are Horror Fans The Problem?How about the incredible student film Yellow Brick Road which is Wizard of Oz redone with zombies. I can go on and on about these great films and shorts that have gone largely ignored by mainstream horror fans. Whose fault is it?

The writer points out that horror fans would rather gush over the Evil Dead Remake then focus on indie films that pack more substance. Although I agree that the small gems of the horror genre are overlooked I do not blame the fans. I think the current state of the horror genre comes down to three key factors, selection, marketing, and the new breed of fans.

When George Romero made Night of The Living Dead which to this day is one of the greatest zombie films of all time he had very little competition which means as horror fans our selection was limited. Fortunately for us Romero made a great film to fill the zombie genre vaccuum. Yes others were making zombie movies at the time but right now there are literally hundreds of zombie movies of varying quality being made in a year and with on demand services like NETFLIX we are buried in a sea of horror movies and forced to figure out what to watch.

This is both good and bad, good because it means we have selection as I noted but also it can be a negative, how do we decide what to spend our money on? Most of us including me have to PAY to see most of our horror films. Am I supposed to watch Dead Heads, The Revenant, The Loved Ones, American Mary….. what of the 50 odd indie movies this year should we be watching? Even more important what if I have no way to see any of these movies due to limited distribution deals?

The most popular indie horror films are not the best ones they are simple the ones that had a hardcore team of filmmakers who promoted the crap out of it and to them I say kudos! Way to stand behind your product.

Unfortunately many great films go unseen because they lack the support from distributors, effort by the filmmakers and attention from bloggers like us to truly draw in the attention of the horror community which is where we get to the marketing angle.
The distributors, and filmmakers that have the right connections and make the most noise are the ones that get all the attention. How many of you have seen a site go full bore promoting an absolutely TERRIBLE horror film while you though ‘What about Film X’?

How many of you have heard of DEAD SEASON which just became one of the most watched new titles on NETFLIX? I write for a horror site with a reach in the hundreds of thousands and I found out about it blindly surfing NETFLIX on demand. Dead Season is a really innovative zombie movie and left me wondering why I had no memory of talking once to the filmmakers.

Filmmakers need to stop relying on fanpages where you are in a sea of 15 second attention spans and start forming relationships. Toby Wilkins when SPLINTER came out did not send me a press release from some agency, or invite me to join his Facebook page he emailed me and said ‘Hey bro can you look at my flick?’. Steve Miller’s new film Silent Night is coming out soon and he knows he needs to promote it so he emailed me and said ‘Hey lets talk and get you a look at my film’.

By emailing a few die hard horror sites you can very quickly reach over a million die hard horror fans. Here alone we reach tens of thousands of fans daily why wouldnt you want to take 2 minutes to say hello and get some free press? Why wouldnt you email us and ask what it costs to reach all our readers for a week? You would be shocked how easy it is to get ad space on a horror site if your an indie filmmaker. We WANT you to succeed but you have to come to us, we have no idea who you are if you dont for the most part.

My last reason is fans but a new generation of fans. The reason that horror remakes make $60 to $100million or more is because of younger fans looking to relive the nostalgia that their brothers, sisters and parents keep telling them about. The remake of Nightmare on Elm Street made 100 times more money then Human Centipede not because it was a good movie but because it catered to the younger generation who wanted to revisit the original and for whatever reason are not drawn to buying the original.

Stop relying on Facebook and Twitter as your marketing strategy. Both are a great way to engage with readers but your message is so easily lost in a sea of daily page updates. If you have made an awesome product and your marketing strategy for your film does not include actually engaging with your fans on the dozens of great horror blogs then you can not exactly blame horror fans for not seeing your film or knowing anything about it.

And those of you reading this you need to get off your asses as well and support indie horror. If you hear us raving about a must see indie horror film do you buy it? Do you watch it on Netflix? As much as I let fans off the hook without horror fans there will be no horror genre and if even half of our readers watched American Mary for example it would be a blockbuster.

As a die hard horror fan what do you think? Is it the fans who dont support the genre? Are some filmmakers not doing their part to get the word out to the right people? Is it the distributor? Or are times just different now in comparison to when George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was released?

On a side note I think the most obvious place for indie horror filmmakers to succeed is with online on demand services that literally millions of us subscribe to. I am in touch with NETFLIX to find out what their policy is on acquiring horror films and will followup this piece once I have their feedback. In the meantime you can go read my list of what I feel are 20 of the Best Indie Horror Films

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27 Comments

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      1. Bob B December 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm

        Same reason why anything fails. Bad advertising. The only reason I’ve heard of most of these movies is because I’ve noticed them on Netflix. Maybe indie filmmakers should be going straight to Netflix.

        • HorrorMovies December 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

          Agree Bob but hopefully you have also heard of them HERE on our site. That said I have never understood why some filmmakers try to make their films such a secret and or dont reach out and ask ‘hey I am an indie filmmaker can you give us a sweet ad deal’ Because we absolutely would! In the 10 years I have run this site I have NEVER been asked that question.

        • Bob B December 1, 2012 at 9:44 pm

          There are a few from this article that I do plan on watching that I never heard of before if they are easy to find and cheap (Netflix).
          Maybe you need to do some advertisingto indie filmmakers. I never knew about this site until a few months ago and didn’t think it had been around for 10 years. Im still nervous coming here on my phone because “horror-porn” is next suggestion when i type “horror-” in URL.
          But then I wasn’t activity looking for a horror movies website until pickings got slim on Netflix. These filmmakers should be looking for sites like this to advertise

        • HorrorMovies December 1, 2012 at 10:22 pm

          Bob I suppose we are the best kept secret in horror :) Hopefully you choose to visit us again and again. We are truly a site by fans and for fans and have been since day one. And no we dont have any porn.

      2. Alex Kadaverin December 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

        I’m so desperate about how often it just says “support this or that” and actually you don’t really want to buy the product you may watch it at your friend’s or get for free from trackers but you buy it because others don’t. Like you’re not doing it from heart but just try to sustain life of an amputee. The same situation is in the music sphere and I have to tell anybody “Hey, come to our show, wen need you”. If you do that for a couple of times it works. But other way no one gives a shit.

        Too much everything and everything is just too much.

        • HorrorMovies December 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

          I think that online distribution is the best route for indie horror. NETFLIX for example wins by having an awesome collection of horror films nobody else cares about and we fans win as well. The key is how to get onto the major VOD services.

        • Alex Kadaverin December 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm

          I totally agree. Who will refuse the easiest and fastest way to distribute one’s indie product? Though I didn’t know about Netflix before. It’s unavailable in my country.

          Major sources look for the most promoted not the most talented. So definitely the only way to access them is hardcore self-promotion using either money (which indie filmmakers lack, I guess) or mind. And as for the second variant there are so many ways!

          And thanx for this article. I think I’ll keep on reading your blog daily ;-)

        • HorrorMovies December 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

          Alex great comments. Honestly I get that indie filmmakers lack money but as owner of this site the fact no indie filmmaker has thought to ask me ‘hey can I buy all your empty ad space for a deal?’ is mind boggling. Because the answer would be absolutely!

      3. 1Max_Wedge1 December 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        It is because of this site that I have seen many low-budget and Indie horror films. When I read about it here I go to Netflix to see if they have it. Some are good, some not so good and some just plain suck. But I do get to see them.

      4. Michael Stewart December 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm

        I find most of my favorite indie horror movies through box sets (since my reviews tend to focus on older movies, that fits in good), and sometimes just randomly searching though DVD’s at Future Shop or London Drugs. Distribution IS a huge problem for smaller films- especially with studios that prefer to “play it safe” with reboots, remakes, and sequels.

        • HorrorMovies December 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

          Great comments Michael. BTW stop slacking off and start writing again :) Seriously though i tend to agree that perhaps its the distribution model that is broken. I feels strongly that Amazon Prime and Netflix and even HULU could be the future of our genre.

      5. UltraViolent December 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

        Recently I’ve seen some of the best horrors from allover the world by hearing from them through word of mouth on hm and other horror forums and facebook groups. Red white and blue being the most recent. With Brit indie like little deaths being my new favourite indie. There is as you put it so much undiscovered gems out there but I feel old school promotion is the best way to get the word out. Word of mouth, hearing real people saying ‘i loved this you gotta see it’ low Budget can be better than any Hollywood blockbuster purely because less money = more work = more tender loving care for the finishing product and less lazy cgi wack it out without any real feel for the movie.

        • HorrorMovies December 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

          Great comments. Big question however is how do we raise the profile of these films? For example what will make American Mary the financial success that Human Centipede was not?

        • UltraViolent December 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm

          blogging like you’ve said in another article :) blogging, forums, horror groups on social networking sites even YouTube with real people doing the reviews not a major magazine. I rely on real people saying I love this rather than joe bloggs who’s editor told him to say I love this to boost his pay. Honest to god word of mouth or an indie director popping onto the hm indie forum and saying hey people I’m blah blah mind if I share my trailer with you? Most of us wouldn’t mind giving it a watch and some feedback :)

      6. The Devil's Toybox December 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm

        Great post. I think a lot of moviegoers have gotten used to the watered-down ‘horror’ of mainstream movies. The same thing is happening with horror books. Traditional publishers want copies of what’s come before, while indie writers and small press have some great horror talent.

        • HorrorMovies December 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

          great comment i agree. But how do we build a better audience for indie films and books? You have to advertise in my view, blogs are an awesome start but a good marketing strategy hammers home a message. Our readers need to see our reviews but see the movie front and center to remember to buy it.

      7. Optimus_past_my_Prime December 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm

        I think there’s a certain intimacy associated with independent film that’s not present in big budget movies. These movies have a lot of heart and more often than not they can be the ‘life’s work’ of the film maker. Today’s generation avoids intimacy and favours anonymity. Interpersonal relationships are a thing of the past in this instant gratification society we live in. If the movie goer has to think about what they watching or even attempt to relate to it they’re turned off by the experience. This, though, is only one small piece of the larger picture. Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s all about bankability. Independent films are too big of a risk to invest in so they fall to the wayside only to be seen by the truest of fans. This is why everything today is a remake or a sequel.

        • HorrorMovies December 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

          Awesome comments. So how do we as fans and as a site help these indie films get more exposure?

        • Optimus_past_my_Prime December 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

          You guys just keep doing what you’re doing. You have a great site which promotes all walks of horror. As fans we should probably utilize the social media sites that are the most popular right now to promote these films: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I often share pages on Facebook so my friends will see them and hopefully share with others. Re-tweeting and following accounts that promote the films or the film makers themselves and the film makers should always make trailers available on YouTube. It’s free marketing so use it. IMDB could also be a valuable resource for promotion. Sharing is caring.

        • HorrorMovies December 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

          Definitely sharing with friends is one of the ways to build an audience for indie horror. I honestly dont rely on IMDB for anything but a movie synopsis at most. I rely on comments here to decide what to watch

      8. Richard Gibbs December 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        This all strikes me as a bit silly. You reckon indie film makers should forego twitter and Facebook, and instead start emailing horror bloggers? That’s exactly the system that’s failing. You don’t build relationships by relying on someone else. How then do you track the success of your current project? Film makers need to start pursuing mainstream attention, rather than sticking in their niche. In short they need to think BIGGER.

        Adam Green thought big with Hatchet- and has got where he has today because of it. There’s a misconception that we as horror fans should support indie films. That’s a load of crap. We should support good films. This whole mindset is what’s killing good indie films. Because shit films get backed blindly by the “it’s indie we must support it crowd” we get served up some really awful releases. I reckon more than 90% of the indie films being released are probably no good. That 90% is what turns a lot of people off trying what may turn out to be a brilliant film.

        • HorrorMovies December 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

          Let me be clear. Ignoring Facebook / Twitter is NOT what i am intending to say. I am saying it wont make your movie a smash hit. You need relationships with bloggers. Case and point if I post something on facebook of our 22,500 fans at most it will result in a 1% CTR where as something we post as news is 20 times that. Great comments but dont get so bent that we dont agree.

      9. Jason Haley January 14, 2013 at 11:49 am

        I love horror, and think alot of great movies have come out over the years that i know I’ve missed out on. Most of the time i look for dvds and will look up a movie on my phone while I’m in the store. And to tell you the truth most movie stores dont have a horror section around here anymore. It’s really sad trying to pick out horror movies that have been put in with action or drama. I hate what it’s come to….

      10. Levi April 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm

        Why can’t horror movies just become popular through word-of-mouth like in the old days? I mean, I’m sure that if given the popularity and recognition, American Mary would’ve gone worldwide theatrical immediately and grossed tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Oh well, what are we supposed to do?

        • Herner Klenthur
          Herner Klenthur April 7, 2013 at 12:20 am

          Horror movies do become popular through word of mouth. The problem is that Facebook has become the go to for promotion when its proven that is NOT the only place to do it. American Mary just needs more bloggers to see it and talk about it and it will either succeed or fail based on the quality.

          Great comment thanks for sharing.

        • DK September 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

          Working Hypothesis #1: Word-of-mouth takes time, and theatrical runs these days are much shorter than they used to be. Also, the market and tech innovations being what they are, there are few return engagements or long-term engagements at theatres anymore, compared to the 70s or even the 80s.

          Working Hypotheses #2 (a, b, c, etc.): Fewer people see movies during their theatrical runs. Rising ticket prices, a theatre-going experience that is ever more scaled-down, wages that have not kept step with prices and an increasingly uncertain economy with participants that have cut back heavily on spending are all factors. The time (and money) gap between theatrical release and DVD/Blu-Ray releases and subscription or pay-per-view has decreased. Finally, theatres have become less safe in an America that has become less safe.

          Working Hypothesis #3: A vastly increased amount of product (movies as well as competing forms of entertainment, via multiple channels – i.e. theatrical release, Internet subscription services, cable, DVD rentals, Youtube and variants) is chasing a relatively static (in comparison) number of eyeballs, and possibly a decreasing quantity of dollars.

          Working Hypothesis #4: Changes in production methods have led to an aggregate decrease in interest by audiences (truth hurts…).

          Alternate Working Hypothesis #4(b): Changes in filmmaking emphases have led to an aggregate decrease in interest by audiences (the truth hurts even more…).

          Working Hypothesis #5: An entertainment industry increasingly identifying and identified politically with an ever-more radical left is anathema to at least half the nation – especially as it becomes obvious that spending on the industry becomes tantamount to voting with dollars.

          Working Hypothesis #6: Even die-hard, rabid fans have their limits. Blaming the fans gets one exactly nowhere.