Before we even begin, I just want to say that I don’t mean to criticize anyone with what I’m about to type. In fact, I myself am guilty of many of the things I’m going to be ranting about. All I’m looking to do here is start an intelligent discussion, and get some thoughts off my chest. I love the horror community dearly, I simply have some major issues with it – and the way that we tend to deal with things.
Being a part of this wonderful community for many years now, there’s one common thread I’ve noticed with pretty much every horror fan I’ve ever met, and every horror fan whose thoughts I’ve ever read on Twitter, Facebook, the IMDb message boards, etc. That common thread, you ask? We are all completely in love with the idea of nostalgia, and re-living childhood joys. I know this because I’m one of those fans who can’t pass by a sun-faded VHS tape at a yard sale without pulling a dollar bill out of my pocket.
Us horror fans, more than any other group of fans, are absolutely obsessed with nostalgia, and all of the horror movies from the past that inspire that sense of nostalgia within us. We go to conventions and spend our rent money on meeting that one dude who was in that one scene of Friday The 13th: Part 7. He charges $30 for an autograph, but we don’t mind. We love him, because he was some small part of our childhood.
Similarly, we continue to buy the same movies on every different format they’re made available on. We have the VHS and the Laserdisc, and our collection simply doesn’t feel right without the 10 different DVD and Blu-ray releases. We buy action figures over and over again of the same iconic characters. And we just can’t seem to stop talking about the same movies, year after year.
Now this is all fine, and there’s certainly no problem with being hardcore fans of the movies we love. Again, I’m one of those fans who keeps buying the same movies, keeps buying toys of characters from those movies, and keeps writing about childhood favorites. That’s not what I have an issue with. That’s just fans being fans, and that’s a wonderful thing. That’s what makes the horror community so damn awesome, in fact.
What I do have an issue with is the way that most of us horror fans simply refuse to embrace anything shiny and new, and prefer to remain in the past, 100% of the time. If a new horror movie comes along, how do we treat it? We rip it apart. We hate it. We criticize it for, ironically, having many of the same qualities that our favorite horror movies of the past possess. Worse yet, we ignore it.
And then we slide the original Evil Dead into our DVD player and let the joy of re-living it for the 145th time wash over us. Because this is my boomstick. And this is comfortable.
I bring up The Evil Dead because it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about here. I love the film as much as anyone, and I’ve re-watched it as often as any other fan has. But let’s be real here. Evil Dead is not some kind of untouchable masterpiece. In fact, nowadays, it’s pretty damn dated, and quite frankly was in need of a modern day upgrade. Is it blasphemy for me to say that? Unfortunately, it seems like it is. But let’s take a step back, and come to the realization that nostalgia aside, some of our favorite horror movies just aren’t that good.
In addition to most horror fans bashing the Evil Dead remake before it was even made, and again acting as if the original was some sort of untouchable classic, guess what most fans hated it for, once they actually saw it? Having one-dimensional characters. Having a story that wasn’t all that great. Many hated it, essentially, for being nothing more than mindless, over the top gore.
Now correct me if I’m wrong here, but doesn’t the original have all those same qualities? Doesn’t the original have a very basic story and amateur acting? Don’t we all love the original because it’s… GASP …mindless and over the top?! So why then do we feel the need to hate on the Evil Dead remake, and yet continue to love and embrace the original to the point that we’ve put it on a pedestal as one of the best films ever made? Why does the thoroughly faithful remake suck so bad, while the original is amazing and genius?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because of nostalgia. Nostalgia largely dictates what movies we as horror fans love, which is why we have such a hard time embracing anything new: because there’s no nostalgia connected to anything new. We never saw newer movies when we were kids. And without that kid inside of us telling us it’s okay to like a movie, and to shut our critical eye and watch it through the eyes of a fan, we quite frankly seem to be lost on how to feel. So we hate. Because it’s a lot of fun to hate new things. As much fun as it is to love old things, for many.
Horror movies, for the most part, aren’t masterpieces. They’re oftentimes flawed – loveable and totally awesome, but flawed. But when we watch a horror movie as a kid, we don’t see any of that. All we see is the awesomeness of a scary monster ripping apart a human being. And so, when we grow up, watching those movies makes us feel like that young fan again, that kid who couldn’t care less about plot holes, bad storylines or terrible acting. We revel in that nostalgia, and we look past all the flaws that would ruin our enjoyment of the movie, if nostalgia wasn’t present. In fact, those flaws are downright endearing, when they’re present in movies from the past.
Take Texas Chainsaw 3D, for example. A perfect movie? FAR from it. It’s got plot holes, timeline issues, corny dialogue and a lot of utterly silly shit. And because of those things, most fans absolutely hated the movie, and ripped it to shreds. But there several copies of movies like Chainsaw 2 & 3 sit, on those same fans’ shelves. Movies that are also flawed. And yet movies that we all love, despite those flaws.
Do we love those movies because we love those movies, or do we love them because we love nostalgia? I’d like to think the answer is the former. But why then can nobody seem to have fun with Chainsaw 3D, and instead hate on it for a lot of the same issues inherent in the other Chainsaw movies that they love? I can’t help but feel like a large part of it is because that nostalgia isn’t there to tell us it’s okay to enjoy watching movies, and to stop being so damn critical.
I must also blame the internet for a large part of this ‘hipster’ mentality. Thanks to the internet, everyone with a keyboard is a critic. We all have a platform to spew our thoughts, and we all love to be the guy to point out all the flaws a new movie has, as well as rant and rave about how movies just aren’t made the way they used to be. Imagine how badly movies like the Friday The 13th sequels would have been torn apart, if they came out during the internet age? But they didn’t. They came out in the 1980s. So we love them. We pay no mind to their flaws. Their plot holes. Their stupidity.
Prometheus and Super 8 come to mind, while we’re on the topic of internet hate. Two incredible movies, both of which the internet eviscerated. Why? Because there were plot holes. Because unrealistic things happened. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but if we’re looking for plot holes in similar movies like Alien and ET, we’re going to find them. If we want to criticize Super 8 for being unrealistic, then why was it magical and awesome when Elliot rode his bike past the moon?
Why do we have this need to pick apart anything new, and leave alone anything old? Why do we love to bash the Friday The 13th remake because Jason ran in it, and yet have no issue with him running in the original installments? Because we hate new things simply because they’re new? I’m inclined to believe that’s the source of the hate. Sad, but true.
I could go on and on listing off horror movies we should be embracing, rather than hating, but Hatchet is another one that immediately came to mind, when I was brainstorming about what I was going to say here. Hatchet is essentially a modern day Friday The 13th sequel: a mindless gore fest where attractive young people get dispatched in the most creative and violent ways possible. Adam Green even created a brand new villain to do the dispatching, and chose to bring those kills to life with old school practical effects, rather than CGI.
And what was the fan reaction to that movie? While many did embrace the hell out of it, and realized what Green was going for, many others simply refused to enjoy it. I’m not saying every horror fan has to like every horror movie, but for any slasher fan to not have fun watching a movie like Hatchet is just something I can’t understand. Without the nostalgia, it seems, even movies that deliver the same exact things we love from our childhood favorites fail to make us happy. So then what the hell do we really want?
Now I realize that many of the films I’ve referred to throughout this post are either remakes or films inspired by other films, and I totally understand the desire for original movies, rather than endless reboots. Though I think it’s silly to have a blanket hatred of remakes – even though that blanket of course doesn’t cover The Thing or The Fly, because we love those movies so much that we pretend they’re not remakes – I get it. I get that we want new stuff. Original stuff. Because I want the same thing.
But again, rather than embracing the movies that try something new, we quite frankly kind of ignore them. We either bash them or we just don’t talk about them, instead choosing to talk about movies from the 80s and bitch about the remakes – which, oddly enough, we continually support. Truth is, it’s not that good horror movies aren’t being made nowadays, it’s simply that nobody is talking about them. Everyone’s too busy talking about remakes and older movies, to the point that they don’t seem to even notice new movies when they do come out.
You know how rarely I see people on social media talking about movies like The Canal, Honeymoon, At the Devil’s Door and Late Phases? VERY rarely. And you know how often I see Facebook posts and Tweets hating on modern day remakes and praising the same older movies, over and over again? EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Imagine what would happen if horror fans took all that energy that they use to hate remakes, and instead expended it on loving, praising, supporting and spreading the word on original horror movies? Oodles of them come out every year. And though not all of them are good, there are still plenty of filmmakers out there who are making exceptional and original horror films. Rent them. Write blog posts about them. Post Tweets about them. Spread them around, the way you did when you first discovered your childhood favorites.
There’s nothing wrong with embracing your nostalgia. By all means, never stop loving the movies that make you feel all warm and gushy inside. But embrace some new things every once in a while too, and look to the future as often as you look to the past. Maybe if we all start supporting new and original movies, more new and original movies will be financed. And wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?
Just keep reminding yourself:
It’s okay to like new things….
It’s okay to like new things…
It’s okay to like new things..
It’s okay to like new things.
I’d love to turn the comments section of this post into a love-fest for newer horror movies, whether they’re remakes or originals. So feel free to comment below with the names of your favorite horror movies of the last few years, which will hopefully serve as a nice little compilation of recommendations for those looking for new gems.
The floor is now yours.
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