The Horror genre can be traced all the way back to classic gothic literature to fairy tales to campfire stories. Whether it is a ghost story, or an old fashioned fairy tale, horror stories evoke strong emotions in us. Stories of suspense and terror can be highly stimulating, exhilarating even. I think that you can argue that culturally humor is very subjective, but as a race we fear the same things.
One of my favorite directors said:
"We’re all afraid of death, loss of a loved one, everything you’re afraid of; I am, so there’s no secret to it."
The fear of pain or the threat to your family and friends can be translated across culture, much more so than the humor of Adam Sandler or Mr. Bean.
It is no surprise then that horror movies have been part of cinema from the beginning. The 1922 Nosferatu retold Bram Stokers Dracula and thrilled audiences then and now. And since then we have seen a variety of great horror classics over the years.
Some of the best horror films in my opinion would be; The Omen, The Thing, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Carrie, Psycho. There are of course many more and that list is of course quite subjective. But I think most fans of horror recognize at least some of these as classics.
But if these are classics where are the decent horror movies of today? Rec 2? Final destination 5, The Ring 3, the remake of the Thing, Hostel?
I know I am generalizing but allot of modern horror seems to be what I describe as torture porn. Films like Hostel lack sophistication to me and attempt to reach new lows in gratuity. Sure they are playing upon the fear of imprisonment and torture, but for me they just over load you with gore until you become desensitized to the horror and violence and it simply becomes distasteful. Even ludicrous.
|Tucker and Dale was a great take on a tired story|
It could be said that the stories of Robert Bloch, Stephen King and Clive Barker have all been told, and that there are no new stories. That is why there are so many sequels, and derivative films of teenagers being sexually assaulted and murdered by Hill Billies in the Appalachians. To me cultist children with farm impliments hunting people is more frightening than some inbred mutant in a mask. Not that there isn't anything wrong with a mask. Michael Myers mask dehumanises him in a way whih is much more terrifying than a eastern european with a scapel. But Mr Myers has been rebooted so many times now his image is more mundance than evocative.
|Gingers! the most frightening of all horror villains.|
But I don't believe that Horror is passe. I am an optimist about the scope of the human imagination, and that includes its capacity for fear. Films like Let the right one in, and Mama (admittedly I have only seen the preview for this) show that good classic horror can still be made.