The Sad Demise of the Humble Horror Movie…..
1999. Perhaps it was because of the inverted “Number of the Beast” but 1999 was the last time that I enjoyed a genuinely scary horror movie – Blair Witch.
Why have we lost the power to write or produce decent horror movies? What has happened to the our ability to convey the presence of evil, the fear of monsters, the terror of being alone and isolated with a slasher on the loose? Where are the current crop of films turning childhood anxieties and mythologies into nightmares?
Now, off the top of my head I can only think of a small number of movies that have actually scared me:
- The Exorcist – the them of Tubular Bells can still cause the hairs on the back of my neck to bristle
- Psycho – to this day I will not stay in an American Motel, and, I always check behind the shower curtain when I stay in a hotel
- Rosemary’s Baby – having lived next door to a number of suspected Satanists in my time…….
- The Shining – “Here’s Johnny!”
- Poltergeist – coulrophobia at its best!
- A Nightmare on Elm Street – the original and best of the genre
- The Omen – I have often checked the hairline of a badly behaved child for that telling tattoo
All of the above have the commonality of good writing, good production, a chilling soundtrack and the fact that they allow the mind to drift to those genuine place of terror that lurk within our psyche.
But, today it is all sequels, and prequels, sagas and spoofs. Horror in the current era is all about pretty-boy martial art expert vampires, dim-witted gum chewing teenage babes with pigtails (I should get a few hits with that), or all blood and gore and torture contraptions (although I do think that the original SAW was ground-breaking).
Otherwise, the them is so transparent – who genuinely didn’t get it after the first five minutes of Sixth Sense or The Others? Or, frankly ridiculous – the scariest thing about Mel Gibson’s “Signs” was that anyone would think that a
monster that could be destroyed by water could be scary at all. Just move to Manchester and you’d be safe as a safe thing…….
Every Halloween I search for a movie worthy of turning the lights off for. A film that gets you to chase your woman up the stairs making growling noises at the back of your throat. But, sadly, not since 1999…..