Is This The Horror Homage Decade?


As I sit here in front of the computer screen desperately trying to come up with another editorial topic, I keep coming back to an idea that often pops up in my brain.  The question that I always find myself asking… “where is the horror genre going”?  You see, since I have that whole education in Film Analysis (which isn’t benefitting me at all in “the real world”) I have been conditioned to look at films from a myriad of different perspectives and varying schools of thought.  This leads me to come to multiple conclusions regarding trends in horror films and to use time to ultimately weed out the good movies from the bad ones.  While I was trying to come up with a place that horror movies are headed, it got me thinking about where they came from.  I think the best way to explain myself would be to show you a decade by decade rundown of what the horror genre has given as it stands to some academics.

Note: I am aware this is a gross oversimplification, but in trying to keep these things around 1000 words, I have to over simplify.  You guys get the idea anyways.

  • 1920’s:  The early days of Horror including the beginning of the horror narrative and the delivery of genuinely trippy and disturbing images to the masses.  Notables include Nosferatu (1922) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
  • 1930’s and 40’s:  Started with the heyday of the Universal monster movies including Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Invisible Man (1933).  The 40’s gave us the start of the Thriller subdivision including The Cat People (1942) and some more Frankenstein films.
  • 1950’s: The Monster Movies/The Atomic Age Mutation Flicks/Lots of Metaphors.  Notables:  The Thing From Another World (1951), The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1952)
  • 1960’s:  Things start to get interesting with this Hitchcock fellow’s movie Psycho (1960) as well as the emergence of the Hammer films.  By 1968, the stepping stone to the insane 70s was laid in Night of the Living Dead.
  • 1970’s:  The entire genre was reinvented (look at this editorial for more info) producing  too many classics to even note here.
  • 1980’s: Rise of the Slasher subgenre as well as the potential of low budget horror movie franchising for large returns. Notables: Anything with Jason/Freddy/Pinhead/Michael Myers.
  • 1990’s:  Horror genre starts to get bored with itself to almost the point of extermination.  Scream (1996) completely resuscitates the genre spawning a billion teen horror flicks which produced some good films like Disturbing Behavior (not a good movie, I just like it) and The Faculty, but also some terrible ones like Urban Legend and I Know What you Did Last Summer.

So that leaves us with the 2000s.  When we look back on the years between 2000 and 2010, it’s going to be interesting to analyze what the decade was really known for.  Of course the first thing that jumps into the heads of everyone is the whole remake craze which really deserves a little more press. [sarcasm]

There have been a number of remakes that turn into good horror films such as The Hills Have Eyes, but more often than not, these remakes exist to spend a small amount of money on a film with a “built in audience” and get a large return.  Of course with any film, this is always the goal, but in 2009 it looks like that is the only goal.  I’m not saying studios shouldn’t be allowed to make money, I’m just saying that they are too afraid to lose it gambling on an original idea.  This leads mainstream audiences to get served remakes and broad and generalized PG-13 audience tested garbage.  So in a sense, this means that to look and find new, original, engaging horror films we have to look on the other sides of our Ocean borders.

It’s no secret that the hardest of the hardcore horror fans have all started glancing over seas to see if the rumors of new and original ideas being churned into movies were true.  As it turns out they were all true leaving us with a slew of amazing releases including: Martyrs, Inside, [REC], Ju-on, Anything by Takashi Miike, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and the list just keeps on going.  Some people will look at this influx of a quality product coming into North America and remember the 2000’s as a time of great achievements in the genre by foreign countries with no lasting contribution by North America whatsoever.  I don’t know if the history books will turn out that way, but if they do I completely understand.

“Torture Porn” will be remembered as a fad.  The funny part about that is the obvious notion that torture porn isn’t a fad at all, it’s always been around and will always be prevalent in horror movies.  A couple of torture centric movies came out at the same time and the pop culture savvy media wanted a buzz word that was not only degrading to the films but also disrespectful.  The reason I bring this up is because no one will remember this term.  If they do it will be in passing and the conversation will end with the parties involves agreeing that the term is useless because horror had always had all the elements from the movies of this time and to put a term to it is ridiculous.  It’s like calling a cup of ocean water you scooped out of the sea and calling it “Hot Mama Sauce”.  It’s not “Hot Mama Sauce”, its sea water in another cup, it will always be sea water.  Just because you called it something else and made the name sound cool doesn’t make it a new product.

I suppose that the entire thesis of this article is “what do you think the 2000’s will be remembered for?” as pertaining to horror cinema and culture?  Will you remember all the insane and hardcore French flicks that came out or will you remember all the original incantations of all that Asian horror that got a terrible North American release?  Will you remember the insipid remake era as an obvious anti-fan stance on all films?  Were there any movies that came out that you will have fond memories of viewing with your loved ones?  I don’t have any answers, only theories.  I guess just like any other generation of film, it’s a matter of perspective.  I’m going to see the 2000’s as the new zombie revival.  Hopefully I can get in on writing one of them books on the subject.

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