To go along with Zombie Cat contributor Gary Hamrick’s recent angry rant about how much he hates “horror movies,” I’d like to present my own feelings on the subject. Gary’s column, while incendiary, isn’t completely off base. Most horror fans have felt for a while that not enough strides have been made to further the genre. While the occasional diamond in the rough emerges from the dregs, it’s still frustrating when a constant barrage of crap makes us look bad in the eyes of the common folk.
To this, I present five things (not necessarily in order, and by no means the only five) that drive me crazy about recent horror flicks.
1. OMG Moments
You know the scene – the teenie bopper lead character slowly makes her way down the hallway into her room where she heard a suspicious noise emit within. She creeps into the room softly calling, “Hello?” until she reaches the closet when SUDDENLY THE DOORS FLY OPEN OMG THE VIOLINS STRIKE SHE SCREAMS AND…it’s her cat, Mittens. Mittens bounds away as the teenie bopper lead laughs and skips to the kitchen for ice cream (probably where she’s attacked for real).
These “stings” or “scare chords” are usually just a cheap way to frighten the audience, give their heart a race to make up for how boring the rest of the film is. They’ve been going on for years and need to be toned down considerably, if not removed entirely. Think of other ways to shock the teens out of their seats, please.
2. “Torture Porn”
Let’s get this out of the way: I’m calling for an end to the term, not necessarily the sub-genre, though I do have something to say about that too. At no point should a horror fan use the term “torture porn.” Cole Abaius over at Film School Rejects published a piece on the subject in November, and I agreed with the vast majority of what he writes. Simply, “torture porn” doesn’t exist. To claim a film has no artistic merit is one thing, but to deride an entire sub-genre is another.
Worse, it makes people who enjoy the films into degenerates, which is nothing new for horror fans. It’s been happening since Frankenstein. Those using the term simply don’t know their history; else, they would use the correct term, splatter film. “Torture porn” was coined by an otherwise quite serviceable critic (and self alleged horror fan) named David Edelstein, who claimed none of these films have any merit and are just pornography. Just because you don’t think it does, princess, doesn’t mean it doesn’t. And vice versa, obviously.
That said, while I’m not one to complain about a splatterfest (hey, I love FX, sue me), the sub-genre does lend itself to simple copycats and lazy releases. In the future, we horror fans require some thought and effort on the part of the filmmakers. Now that the trend is on a major decline, future films should weed out the bad and the overused and come up with something wholly original and mind-blowing.
Yeah, I said it. But hear me out.
Perhaps this goes beyond films into “real life” territory, but zombies have become so played out it’s ridiculous. It was a strange time for me around the turn of the century when I saw otherwise totally normal folks wearing zombie shirts and talking about the gory special effects they loved.
Then came zombie walks. And endless stupid movies that just threw in zombies cause make-up is cheap. And then even more crappy movies that had big budgets because they were so popular. Today, you can’t get away from them.
I studied zombie movies (among others) for my senior thesis in college. Zombies films are among some of my earliest horror memories, so I have a special fondness for them. When done right, zombies can mean the most out of the average movie monster because they’re US, man.
But among all the films that came out, how many were any good? Beyond that, how many will be remembered down the road? Two? Three? Yeah, we got Shaun of the Dead and The Walking Dead looks to be a huge win for AMC that gets a lot right. But most of the meaning has been sucked out, and my beloved zombies are in danger of getting the Twilight treatment. Hopefully the “overload” will come soon and we’ll have “werewolf walks” around Halloween instead.
4. Pretending Your Crappy Movie was Intended to Be That Way Thus Making it Retro
Yeah, long title, but it gets the idea across. I’m tired of seeing these kinds of films. It’s generally some goofy slasher with a weak ass villain and some big boobed doofuses running around blah blah blah. No original ideas, no point – but when asked, the director says, “Oh we were just paying homage to the 80s LMAO!”
Listen: if you made a shitty film but you still managed to sell it to a distributor, that’s fine. Own up to it. But don’t lie. Horror fans know. Furthermore, how about you actually spend time on it and make a good film in the first place? Though slashers are done to death (I studied them for my paper as well), there’s still territory to be explored if you try hard enough. But most don’t, as they’re in it for the money and not to made real films or at least learn the craft.
Trust me: you’re no Lloyd Kaufman or Roger Corman. You’re Uwe Boll.
Wait, no it’s not. If anything encapsulates the “no originality and totally brainless” issue with horror flicks, it’s the remake trend that’s been going on for too long. Remakes of old films, remakes of other country’s films, remakes of remakes for god’s sake, it just won’t end.
Of course, the real problem is people still go to see them. After they get back from the theater from seeing “Prom Night,” these people complain about no original ideas. Then, when something original and good comes out, these same people suddenly find excuses to stay home (see: Slither). Horror fans will be the engineers of their own destruction. And then they’ll complain about it online.
To end on a positive note: “True Grit” aside, the remake trend seems to be on a decline, especially since we’re entering a new decade with new trends to be discovered. Hopefully whatever lies ahead in the next ten years does everyone’s favorite genre a solid and puts horror on the top where it belongs.