Archive for April 10th, 2019

Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers
Puttin’ suckers in fear

“Mama Said Knock You Out”  LL Cool J

In the last couple of years there have been a few high profile horror movies that have critical praise, and a healthy box-office: Us (2019), Mandy (2018), The Witch (2015), A Quiet Place (2018), Suspiria (2019), It (2017), Get Out (2017), Hereditary (2018).  This has resulted in suggestions on both social and mainstream media that we are in some kind of golden age of horror, or there is some sort of renaissance.  This is somewhat misleading, as LL Cool J said: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years”.

Horror has existed since the birth of narrative cinema with  the short film Le Squelette Joyeux (1895) possibly being the first.  After the first world war, German Expressionist cinema saw a growth in the genre with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922) being two great examples.

It wasn’t long before Hollywood was on the bandwagon, most famously the Universal Horrors starting with Dracula (1931), and Frankenstein (1931) and reaching a pinnacle with Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

The biggest name in British Horror, Hammer entered the genre via TV when The Quatermass Experiment was adapted into The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), this was closely followed by their versions of two age old classics; The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958).

Throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s Italian Giallo movies like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and A Bay of Blood (1971) by directors Mario Bava and Dario Argento became a mainstay of horror.

Born in the 70’s I grew up in the 80’s watching horror movies, here are a few of my favourites of the decade: The Shining (1980), An American Warewolf in London (1981), The Evil Dead (1981 and Evil Dead II 1987), The Thing (1982), Videodrome (1983), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Aliens (1986), Near Dark (1987), The Lost Boys (1987), Hellraiser (1987).

The 90’s are often regarded as a poor decade from horror, but it is the decade that gave us Silence of the Lambs (1991), Scream (1996), and The Blair Witch Project (1999).

This quick overview shows that horror has always been with us, but is just the very tip, of the tip of the iceberg of the genre.  But there is more to it than the longevity of horror.  Critically well received and commercially successful aren’t a new combination, if you adjust for inflation some of the highest grossing horrors include: Psycho (1960), The Exorcist (1973), Young Frankenstein (1974), Jaws (1975).

To rub salt into the wound of the disrespect shown to horror movies, there is also a contingent that suggest that there this new crop of horror movies are not horror, or even that they are more than horror.  The terms Elevated horror or (insert relevant adjective) Thriller, seem to be used a lot.  These films are not more than, or better than horror, or even a different genre with elements of horror.  So where does  this all come from?  The simple answer is prejudice.  Horror has always been the black sheep of the movie family, and rather than admitting they like horror movies, some people choose rebrand them to help move them to a new pigeonhole.

Horror movies have always been with us, and will always be with us, or to put it another way: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years“. 

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