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Are Horror films dead?

Halloween.jpgA little while ago the horror remakes trickled in, now there are a string of remakes in various stages of production, with the Hollywood machine fixing its eye firmly on 80's horror films.

At the same time there are a number of Zombie films being made, and a few horror sequels in production. All this points to the question of is the horror genre out of original ideas?

It's an apt question right now as I attend the Dead by Dawn Horror Festival this weekend and see more than my fair share of horror films over the next two days, and I know there will be original stories in there, and tired genres which are revisited in a slightly different shade of light, but these films aren't making it to mainstream horror.

Instead the horror we see reaching the majority of screens seems to be a growing list of horror remakes.

So is the horror genre getting tired or is it Hollywood being lazy? Sure there are some good old horror films that could be remade, but look I'm saying old, not ten years ago.

Some horror genres are particularly over visited at the moment, and perhaps the Zombie sub-genre is the area that is most subscribed by Hollywood, and yet originality still manages to break through, even in the form of a Zombie film sequel. 28 Weeks Later does seem to manage to bring something new to Zombie films in general as well as the story started in 28 Days Later.

Yet this is a small drop in a big ocean. There are tons of Zombie films out there, and still more are being announced, and yet they all seem to follow the same rules and have such similar storylines.

I'm not just picking on Zombie films though as the whole of the horror genre seems to be going through a slump with Hollywood turning to the past catalogue to remake as many slasher films as possible.

So do you feel the horror genre is a bit dead at the moment? Is there life left in your favourite sub-genre such as that of Zombies or slashers, is it out there in or out of mainstream Hollywood or not?





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Comments

"So is the horror genre getting tired or is it Hollywood being lazy?"

Richard,

Is it really necessary to even ASK the above question? :-)

Or COURSE Hollywood is lazy. Give someone who holds the purse strings a choice between something new and something that's proven to have made money and which do you think they'll choose?

Part of the problem now, I think, is the fact that we live in a "blockbuster era", where every movie that doesn't make a gazillion dollars is considered a flop. Horror movies have ALWAYS been niche films, but it seems like the studios have forgotten this and expect them to earn mainstream-movie revenues. Historically these movies were shot on a shoestring budget so they could reach a narrow audience and still be profitable. But when you spend $20-50MM on a movie of this type you'd better be prepared to wait a very long time to make your money back.

Vic

i can't think of a genre more prone to being sub-sectioned and narrowly defined by it's fans, which also simultaneously also has probably the most variety within it.

life is sex and death. films can probably be split down into those two broad catagories too. sex isnt' disappearing from culture, neither will death of course... seems so obvious, it's silly, it's just that this is the broader definition of horror - films involving shocks, much more frequent than it might actually first seem to be.

horror films have and always will be around. more interestingly, what seems to be happening, is an attempt to rebrand horror as a more PG13 passtime than the previous popular incarnation of something more NC17, and this has resulted in the old school diving a little more underground, the new school being a bit younger, the politicians getting increasingly interested and strongarming their way into the concerns of centralising the issues connected to such films as a mainstream, popular, youthful form of entertainment and force of influence.

Richard... How many times do we have to tell you? 28 Days Later is not a zombie film, nor is 28 Weeks Later ;)

It is a zombie film at heart.

The spreading of the disease virus turns you into a hungry flesh eating zombie, and the basic way it can be contracted is the same.

Also, the concept of having a small group of survivors against a far superior number of zombies is straight out of every movie in the genre.

The horror genre probably hasn't had an original idea since about the 1950s at best.


How pessimistic. Making an horror movie has never been easy, and certainly there were golden times, but for a change, I think the genre is very alive, arguably more than ever. If Shyamalan had continued in the way he started, we´d have tremendous horror movies. Asian cinema has showed us new ways of treating with horror, and some of the best movies I have recently seen are american horror movies.

Most of the movies mentioned in this topic:

http://www.filmstalker.co.uk/archives/2006/08/fuse_fangoria_chainsaw_horror.html

are quite remarkable at that regards.


Dont say the Z word! :P - Shaun of the Dead,

Vic, of course I have to ask the question, otherwise there wouldn't be a discussion!

Great comments so far, and I have to say that I don't believe the genre is dead myself, especially having just spent so long watching horror films and there's still another day to go.

I think however, in Hollywood it's struggling. They have to do something other than remaking the old films though.

Oh, and 28 whatever's later are zombie films. Why else are they filled with zombies and they follow all the zombie film traditions.

Unarguably though, they do a lot of things differently from the tired sub-genre though, and they do it well. It's still a zombie film though.

Peter, you're dead right, that has a great list of films.

Oh, and I just bumped into Neil Marshall (literally), he's definitely a good sign that horror is alive and well outside of Hollywood.

I'll agree that they're in the spirit of zombie films, obviously, but the biggest difference is they are not dead... hah. Now I'm just being nitpicky, here, but I mean the difference is big enough to argue.

Also, arguably, you could say the concept of the 28 films is more rooted in reality, as it is very possibly a disease similar to RAGE could break out and destroy an entire civilization.

Or I could just be acting silly...

Making an horror movie has never been easy

Why, then, has the horror genre traditionally been the province of people starting out in filmmaking? Obviously not everyone making their first film on a shoestring budget makes a horror film, but a remarkable amount of small-budget independent productions since the 1930s (look at Halperin's White Zombie as early as 1932) have been in that genre. There must be a perception out there that the horror genre is an easy way into the profession of filmmaking, or at least that it was once.

The problem I have with horror films is that they are rarely horrific. For the most part they are pantomimes. Scream, for example, is just MTV beautiful people with knives. Boring.

I wish that these films were recategorised as 'scary'.

I don't think horror films are dead, it seems to me that we are currently in a 'psychological horror' phase as opposed to another slasher period. Next up, the zombie revival!

I'd venture that American horror is very much dead. The films aren't scary, thrilling, funny, or engaging. It's just tired.

However, in other countries there are some glimmers of hope. Britain has some awesome Horror comedies: Evil Aliens was a blast. Black Sheep looks fun. Shaun of the dead was excellent. And for serious ones: The Descent was killer. 28 Weeks Later could be terrible.

Japan and Korea have been doign the whole freaky female spectre with long hair a little too long for my taste, but at least they get your pulse racing, even if only slightly.

I just heard recently there is a new horror movie that is being considered by Tonic Films and Kintop Films. Most others have considered it "too scary". The writer is a friend, of a friend of a friend. I read part of the script and DAMN. I had wicked ass nightmares. So just hope kintop or tonic picks it up and doesn't get pushed aside.

by the way he said it was called Hades Followed, but that the name would probably be changed.

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