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The Lowered Standards of Horror

Updated on September 5, 2012

The rules of horror were stated pretty clearly in the movie Scream. It was also the movie that started the whole teen slasher movement and was the so-called death of real horror as we knew it.

To be honest, I really don’t think the new horror movie creators even know what true horror really is. Do they understand it? Have they not caught old episodes of Tales from the Crypt or Tales from the Darkside in order to get it? Did they not take cues from Stephen King novels or George A. Romero so they’d know their way around a good scare? Aside from Stephen King I don’t even know any other author of horror with the gall to frighten me. I don’t know any other author that wields the pen so frighteningly that I stay awake at night both terrified of sleep and also terrified of what rests and breathes in the night right outside my house, and yet leaves me so enthralled by a story, so captivated by a string of words that are both hideous and wonderful all at once that they compel me to go on reading.

It’s the same with movies. They don’t make em like they used to, as the old saying goes. And they really truly don’t.

I was born in the ‘80s when movies and shows knew how to invoke a scream, knew how to make you jump (even if only a little), and they weren’t the things you see today. Today you have these corny gore fests. Big budget monstronsities that are not only poorly written, but star actors who no longer know how to play out of fear because they no longer know or understand what fear, in the entertainment sense, is anymore.

All we have are slasher films now.

We have a person brandishing a knife, but it’s not the Chucky that scared us years ago doing the brandishing and the chasing that made our hearts skip a beat to think there was a doll like that out there, a doll that made us weary of the My Buddy and Kid sister dolls that abundantly lined the shelves back in the day (to this day I often wonder if that was some kind of sick promotion or some sort of malicious sabotage aimed at what once had been a popularity in the beginning). Even in the end, after all the sequels and prequels and just plain pointless installments, Chucky became a shell of his former self. The Child’s Play movies went from horror to a bloody (no pun intended) comedy.

Although there were a few shining stars in the past few years, they are few and far in between. Saw is more of a crime thriller, not a horror, and was disappointing to me. It was a film that had its cool moments, but in the end I got something I hadn’t initially asked for in the first place. Drag Me to Hell with its drawn out “action” scenes and over the top gross out moments (along with the over the top pointless script that I didn’t think would end, especially since you saw it coming a mile away and I just wanted it to get there because the stuff that was meant to be interesting along the way really wasn’t) just really wasn’t a good movie--far from it.

Shall I even mention the remakes? Okay, I shall…*sighs*.

Friday the 13th, the remake, was horrible beyond words. Rumor has it that the original script was completely scrapped and the premise changed; even the film description that you see on Netflix and on movie sites that have it for sale is different than the film you end up with, and that says a lot. Truth be told, it’s rare to come upon a good horror flick now. You have to muddle through the ones that use too much fake blood, and then there are the ones that try to gross you out at every single turn, and then there are the ones that are tying their hardest to be insightful and philosophical and, let’s be honest, pseudo intellectual (and you end up laughing instead of being scared) and at the bottom of the barrel you find a good one.

But I’ll tell you one thing, and it’s that the best scares are the ones you get from the movies and books from the past. The ones that know the old tricks, the ones that understand fear, the ones that know people are afraid of that unknown hand that reaches out and touches them in the dark with its cold dead fingers…


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