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Is It Time for Horror Fans to Stop Living in the Past?

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As much as I love the horror community, there are certain things about it that quite frankly boggle my mind, and one of those things is the way that we as horror fans tend to love and praise anything that’s old, and yet hate on or just plain totally ignore anything that’s shiny and new.

Granted, we don’t all do it, but I’ve been fully immersed in the online horror community for many years now, and there’s no denying that a large portion of the fan-base has this hatred towards movies that are new. Or movies that they don’t have nostalgic feelings connected to, I suppose I should say.

Nostalgia has a way of putting a nice sheen of awesomeness over top of things that maybe wouldn’t be so great without these feelings attached to them, and so I understand that it’s really easy to fall into the trap of adoring things that inspire those nostalgic feelings in you, while ignoring and being annoyed by things that don’t. I suppose it’s only natural, and I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with loving and hanging on for dear life to movies and things you experienced in your childhood. Trust me, I do the same thing.

But what I do take issue with is the way that so many horror fans are constantly complaining about a lack of originality within the genre, and yet those same fans are doing nothing but re-watching movies from the past, talking about movies from the past and re-living the so-called glory days of the genre. You hate remakes and sequels, right? Well guess what? The only reason remakes and sequels are being made is because us horror fans are demanding them. Gasp.

We’re the ones that can’t stop buying Freddy merchandise, talking about Michael Myers and watching the Friday the 13th sequels on infinite loops. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. But it’s not hard to see why the studios are only interested in putting their money into properties they know we love, rather than original ideas that we’ve shown them we’re not all that interested in. It’s a no-brainer for them, really.

We all bitch about the endless remakes, but at the same time we head out to our local theaters whenever they come out, and support them with our hard-earned dollars. The original horror films that hit DVD and On Demand outlets every single week – the ones we supposedly want more of? Well, we kind of just pretend they don’t exist, don’t we?

Films like Antiviral, Blood Creek, Splinter, Eden Lake, Excision and Wake Wood immediately come to mind as personal favorites from the recent past, and yet what do they all have in common, aside from being awesome? Unfortunately, they share the common trait of never really being talked about, within the horror community. Certainly not as much as the remakes released in the same years.

Again, I don’t want this little rant to come off like it’s being directed at ALL horror fans, because I’m fully aware that there are oodles of you guys out there who have made it your life’s work to spread the word on the new movies and up and coming filmmakers that hit your radar. And that’s awesome. But I can’t help but be annoyed by the way so many fans overlook all that stuff, instead choosing to seek comfort in the arms of Freddy, Jason, Michael and Leatherface… over and over and over again.

What annoys me more than anything is that a simple picture of one of those aforementioned horror icons, posted on a Facebook page, generates hundreds of shares, likes and comments. And yet, when something is posted about an awesome new horror movie that just came out… nothing. Crickets. It’s as if no one really cares. They just want what they’re familiar with. So do we really want new, original horror? Or is what we really want to just forever live in the past, and constantly bitch and complain about the genre not being what it used to be?

Quite frankly, it’s not that the genre isn’t what it used to be, but rather a simple case of everything looking better, when seen through the rear-view mirror. Granted, many horror movies today are lifeless ripoffs of better films from the past, and yes, CGI has totally ruined the awesome gore guys like Savini used to give us, but the fact remains that there are awesome new horror films being released every year, and it’s largely our support of that original horror that dictates whether the genre moves forward into the future or lies dormant in the past. So again I ask; what do you really want?

I think it’s time we stop being afraid of movies with release dates past the 1980s, and start embracing and giving some of our love to the new films, the new filmmakers, and the iconic villains of the future. Guys like Freddy and Jason will always be there for us, to comfort and wrap us up in their nostalgic blankies, but if we as fans remain in the past, so too does the genre as a whole. And what fun is that?

I’m not telling you to stop living in the past. I’m just suggesting that you start spending a bit more time in the present. So the next time you contemplate popping Dream Warriors into your DVD player for the 154th time, reach for something new, and totally unfamiliar, instead. What’s the worst that could happen?

Watch new movies. Spread the word on new movies you like. Rinse. Repeat.

In closing, I ask the age-old movie buff conversation starter; have you seen anything good lately? Comment below and let’s talk about recent horror movies – within the last couple years – that you enjoyed and recommend to fellow horror fans!

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via john@halloweenlove.com.
  • ThreeOranges

    Except in the past there was no CG blood (as you acknowledge). Digital filming techniques and the elimination of practical effects have made it very difficult for a certain kind of horror to exist in the modern age.

    But, there’s still some good stuff going on, as you point out. But there’s a definite sense that a door has closed.

  • Spot on John.

    While I agree with everything you say and while I don’t immediately hate prequels, sequels, remakes and originals I do have to admit that I hold on tightly to my nostalgia blanky, in all things in my life really and I am afraid of new.

    Looking over one of my recent posts ( https://halloweenlove.com/future-horror-projects-to-keep-an-eye-out-for/ ) you’ll see that I have absolutely nothing new and original on my radar and it is a shame, mostly for me.

    For me at least, it’s not about conformity, I give my thoughts, reasons and choices ample critical thought and I often love things that everyone else hates because I simply don’t care what the majority thinks about anything, I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve enjoyed even despite being teased or not in the in-crowd for it, always true to my heart in all matters.

    The legitimate concerns I have with “new” are time, money and so so much fucking noise! I suppose there has always been a lot of noise ever since the exploitation era, but with the advent of cheaper technology and the internet, the good stuff is drowned out more than ever before with an overwhelming plethora of releases.

    So, it’s not a matter of just not giving them a chance, it’s a literal matter of finding the needle in the haystack.

    Besides childhood nostalgia, I think it also quite literally takes years for some things to eventually be filtered out from the rest and gain a cult following because at the time of release it was just a blip on the map, no one saw it, no one cared.

    I think Lady in the Water is a perfect example. A contemporary movie that I absolutely love that was hated almost as passionately by movie critics and mainstream movie-goers alike.

    However, mark my words, I predict that when that movie is 20 years old, a new generation will discover it and think it’s this awesome cult fantasy movie how we do now with movies from the 80s.

  • Chris Whitt

    Some nostalgia’s good, but too much hurts your cognitive ability to comsume, understand, and appreciate new things. I can understand going nuts over something familiar that you’ve never had the opportunity to see like The Wicker Man: The Final Cut. I can’t quite see the excitement over some quickly-shot, clone slasher hitting Blu-ray. Happily, there’s room for everyone under the expansive tent that is Horror, despite some curmudgeons.
    Some newer ones I’ve enjoyed include Splinter, The Loved Ones, A Cadaver Christmas, John Dies at the End, V/H/S 2. Stitches, and Cockneys vs. Zombies…

  • abone114

    Some good points here. Just a few thoughts – One of the biggest issues I have with modern horror is the lack of suspense. Most, not all but I’d say about 90% of horror these days are all about shock value. The pacing is just… strange. That’s might sound like a little thing but that’s a HUGE deal. Alfred Hitchcock showed us how powerful suspense is when done properly way back in the 50s and 60s and yet for some reason horror filmmakers have stopped using this invaluable tool. You need peaks and valleys in horror. Valleys, where seemingly on the surface not a lot happens plot wise, allows room for the plot to simmer and build to something big to happen (peak) That just doesn’t happen as much now. I think James Wan is one of the only horror directors working today that accomplishes this quite well in The Conjuring and Insidious.

    Something new and ground breaking in the genre has to happen. A similar lull happened in the early 90s. Once the 80s were over the horror genre dipped and studios were really making some bad movies. Then Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson came along with Scream and rejuvenated the genre and ushered in a whole new era of horror. Something like that needs to happen again. I agree that people need to branch out and watch new horror films, you can’t go through life wrapped up in some little bubble refusing to move on from things you enjoyed as a child. I disagree however that the quality of horror films being released today is anywhere near on par with the classics. (Splinter and Eden Lake were pretty great, the others you listed were mediocre at best IMO and Excision, to me is not a horror film, it’s a psychological thriller. You can choose to lump them together if you want but I don’t do that.)

    One last thought on my apologetically long winded comment is this: Horror films need to be FUN again! Everything is just so damn serious now. the Hatchet series comes to mind when I think of fun horror but those movies achieve nothing other than that… They’re just terrible. But I can appreciate what they are trying to do. Horror films used to be scary but also fun. Especially the later installments of F13 and A Nightmare on Elm St. People can get together and party and watch these movies and have a great time. That’s what it’s about. That’s IT. Movies are about having a good time and being entertained. I myself am getting bored with the tiresome serious tone to these horror films as of late. I think most every horror fan is and I think seeing how well Cabin in the Woods was received is proof of this.