Art in Horror Films is Harder to Find
With the newest installment of The Final Destination coming out (in 3D no less) I was pondering where the art in horror film making has gone to. I had to search and remind myself of the films that have made this genre what it is. Crap be damned, there are good, artful horror flicks out there, you just have to wade through the rest to find them.
Pioneering the way for other horror films, Terence Fischer’s Dracula (1958), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Mummy (1959) opened up a new horrific world to the public with the introduction of technicolor and classic characters. Other identifiable and classic horror/ thrillers that have paved the way for some of the garbage to come after are Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) just to name a few. These films were scary, rattling you to the bones basically because they were inventive and reached the core of what scares people the most. Monsters, the Devil, spirits, the walking dead… well now these themes seem overdone and while a film here and there will generally scare the sh!t out us, it seems fewer and farther between.
I give the Final Destination franchise the props for being inventive in some of the ways that they “off” people but really, the idea was only imaginative the first time around and even then it was a movie with teen actors geared towards teen audiences.
Every once in awhile, someone will create a new twist on the “horror” film to reach out and grab movie audiences (example: Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) or the original Saw(2004)) but then it is quickly overdone and dragged out. When I see a horror film, I want real tension and nail biting moments, often lost in some more predictable horror/slasher films of recent. A surprise to me was Neil Marshalls’ The Descent (2006), which offered me these unexpected and anxious scares but alas they coming out with a sequel this year, more than likely ruining my respect for the original (me crossing my fingers for a pleasant surprise).
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead Trilogy, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead or this year’s Sam Raimi joint Drag Me to Hell are instances where the horror genre was mixed with humor to create some really rad and often scary moments, making it artful in my opinion but being only glimmers of creativity in a mostly uninspired pool of guck.
After all this yammering on about the good movies out there it seems that there are some diamonds in the rough but there is more crap out there than worth listing in this already long post. I challenge film makers to bring us back some of those core shaking scares and the frightening imagery that haunts you when you lie down to sleep.