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.
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