Whatever happened to horror movies?

It occurred to me while I was reading the reponses to my drive-in thread that there are no more horror movies. Oh, sure, recent flicks like Resident Evil and Blade II have featured humans fighting zombies and vampires, but those movies just use monsters as targets in a shooting gallery. They aren’t truly horror films by my definition.

Whatever happened to terror in the movies? Nobody is making really scary movies like The Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist, or Reanimator anymore. I wish movie studios would revive the horror genre and scare the pants off me again.

It’s a shame we have no horror actors like Vincent Price or Boris Karloff to frame a movie around. We need more old pros to scare us again.

My top 5 horror films (althought these change daily)

  1. Dawn of the Dead. Flesh-eating zombies and gore combined with social commentary.

  2. The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Stylish, campy horror with gruesome deaths and a charmingly evil villain.

  3. In the Mouth of Madness. While I’m not a big John Carpenter fan, I think this movie is the best H.P. Lovecraft-inspired movie ever. Great depiction of the Elder Gods at the end.

  4. ** Rosemary’s Baby**. A truly terrifying movie without one bit of gore or violence. The chills come from Polanski’s direction, Levin’s writing, and Mia Farrow’s acting. A feast for the paranoid.

  5. The Wicker Man. While not strictly supernatural, pagan worship and human sacrifice, combined with the exotic Scottish landscape, make this a horror movie. It’s Christopher Lee’s best work, next to playing Saruman.

I blame teenagers and studio execs. The term horror movie has now come to mean “slasher flick”. And the studios have begun to think that if there’s no blood, it’s not going to sell.

In my mind, something like “The Sixth Sense” comes nearer to my definition of horror movie than Friday the 13th, Part X1: Jason Does Dallas.

The Others. A true classic, IMHO. It frightened the audience more with the audience’s own imagination than anything they showed on-screen.

While Halloween is generally regarded as the film that inspired the slasher-flick genre, it has always been one of my favorite horror movies. And it has surprisingly little blood and gore (comparatively speaking).

Some recent horror movies that are truly scary:

Ring - A Japanese horror flick that had me sleeping with the lights on by the end.

Session 9 - I haven’t seen this one, but everyone in the horror community and on the HWA message board have raved about it.

Ginger Snaps - The best werewolf movie ever made, according to HWA members.

If you’re looking for horror movie reviews, Rue Morgue and Cemetery Dance are great resources. Of the two, I like CD better. Michael Marano does the movie reviews for CD, and he’s usually right on the money.

In the lastest issue of CD, he says that From Hell is “…suffocating. Creepy. Unnerving.” “Victorian London is shown to be an insane place that set the tone for urban insanity throughout the next century.” “…From Hell may prove to be timeless.”

He also talks about a movie called L.I.E. “L.I.E. is so bleak it makes Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs seem like a Disney flick…See it if you have the guts.”

In the same issue, Ray Garton discusses Requiem for a Dream, saying “…it is a horror movie, the best to come along in a long time. It wasn’t advertised as a horror movie…But no movie in recent memory has horrified me more…”

Um, anyway (I do go on about this, don’t I?)…I just wanted you to know that horror movies are definitely out there. :slight_smile:


See, that just makes the “horror” category so vague as to be useless. Requiem for a Dream is a wonderful, albeit disturbing movie, but it is not a horror movie. L.I.E. is about pedophilia; unpleasant, but not horrific. The blonde Hitler Youth singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” in the biergarten always gives me the willies, but that scene does not make Cabaret a horror movie.

For me, a horror movie should contain two elements: a) a monster of supernatural or alien origin, b) an atmosphere of fear and dread. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, nominally science fiction, is also a crackerjack horror movie. Young Frankenstein despite its use of the eponymous monster, is not a horror movie.

I just watched this last night - I thought it was a really good werewolf movie (not particularily scary, IMO, but horror movies generally don’t scare me anyway.)

“Particularily” of course should read “particularly.”

I didn’t see it myself (I dislike horror movies), but wouldn’t Thirteen Ghosts count?

OK, that’s a good start. I think, though, that the definition of horror (and how it’s distinguished from terror) isn’t so much the nature of the thing that’s threatening you, but that there has to be an element of…I dunno…disgust? Horror elements are generally fear of confined places, creepy animals, being buried alive, or, as in Body Snatchers, loss of identity…horror often has something to do with the trappings of death, decay and dismemberment. Getting shot is terror; getting dismembered or eaten alive is horror. Walking through a cave is terror; walking through a cave full of bats is horror.

Without the chest-bursting scene, Alien would’ve been Terror. With it, it’s Horror (and probably, to get back to the OP, the last good horror film.)

Does it really need a “monster of supernatural or alien origin”?

I’m thinking of all those wonderful 1960s horror movies with Vincent Price based (very, very loosely) on Edgar Allen Poe stories, directed by Roger Corman. The “monster” was usually an obsessed person rather than a supernatural ghost.

BTW, I just found the PIT AND THE PENDULUM on DVD, with a great special soundtrack by Roger Corman describing how they got a cheap deal on the furniture for this set, and how they used the same castle with different furniture for different movies, etc.

Is there a contradiction here?

The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project both would qualify as recent horror movies that emphasized mental horror rather than bloody special effects. Both admittedly came out a couple of years back, but you can’t insist on a new classic every year. If you do insist, I’ve heard The Others is a good horror movie although, unlike rastahomie, I haven’t seen this one myself.

In my opinion, gobear, of the four movies you mentioned as classics, The Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist, and Reanimator, all of them except one (The Exorcist) relied more on gore than dread. Maybe you’re just getting older and the same things that worked for you as a teenage viewer now leave you cold in newer movies.

AFAICT, it would, but it was a crappy one at best. I mean just because you can have something creepy enter the frame really, really fast doesn’t mean that the audience is scared. Startled, yes. Scared, not quite.

I think the fall of the drive-ins also plays a role. Although most folk are mentioning big-buck movies that played in regular theaters, teens accustomed to real (but cheap) horror movies made a ready audience for the more expensive ones. Drive-in movies were also the training ground for actors, writers and directors.

Not sure if a horror movie, but still a good one:

  1. John Carpenters: The Thing. (1982)

This is a horror movie and still has good production values:

  1. Alien (1978). (Surprised noone mentioned this movie) :eek:

Interestingly enough, one can see strong Lovecroftian elements in both (and could be both be considered adaptions of At the mountains of Madness ).

Somewhere along the line hollywood “thriller” ie psycho aliens and horror ie “dracula” " the mummy" became genres together about the time halloween came out…

Also you have to remeber we have a high tolerance level for violence we didnt have previously

Todays teenager would laugh at the first halloween or even nightmare on elm street and would call them cheap or old

The last horror movie i seen in theather was halloween h2o and no one throught it was scary becuase they’ve seen it a million times

Hellraiser 1 and 2 were both horrific in the graphic detail of the mangled cenobites and disturbing when the peeps got cut da’phuk up!

Best horror movies of recent years IMHO.

09/11/2001 happened. After watching the towers fall, nothing scares me any more.

How about movies like “Seven” and “Fallen”?

But I agree, for the mass audience the movie must have slick images and apparently someone in black leather or vinyl.