HOLLYWOOD—I’m a horror buff, and I have been like that since I was a kid. A four-year-old to be exact; I know it sounds crazy, but I had some fascination with horror movies at an early age. You’re NOT supposed to watch and because of that it makes you want to watch that much more. Growing up in the 80s, I was quite familiar with movies from the “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchises. They were my first introductions to the world of horror. Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger were true icons of horror.
Now I’ve said this before and I refuse to believe anything else. The 80s was the explosion of the horror genre and the death of it at the same time. For reasons, I cannot even fathom, we had movie after movie that was a copy and paste of “Halloween,” but more specifically “Friday the 13th.” It was as if Hollywood was thinking, what can we do to create a villain who has a unique look, a special weapon of choice, but we’re going to follow the same narrative of all the horror movies before us? There was no creativity, and that constant imitation was the death of the horror genre as we know. What happened to classic horror? Look I’m not talking about the movies of the 50s that focused on massive creatures and such. I’m referring to the original “Nosferatu,” “House on Haunted Hill,” “Psycho,” “The Haunting,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist,” “Black Christmas,” “Carrie,” “Halloween” and “Alien.” Do you see where I’m going with this? These were all films that had a level of originality; it was something you’ve never seen before.
It felt as soon as Hollywood realized the horror genre was a money maker no one cared about originality anymore. We can use a pair of scissors, a butcher knife, a drill, a hacksaw, a scythe, any type of power tool that can be a weapon to tie it to our villain. No, it doesn’t work and it led to a major drought in the genre, until “Scream” rebirthed it with a meta-humor take on cinema. There was a small burst of originality in the late 90s, before the 2000s ushered in remake city.
Here is the problem with a remake: if you’ve SEEN the original you will always compare it to the new version. You almost have to be blind to the original if you see a remake to have valid justification on how you view the piece of cinema. A modernized version of a classic does not make it a good movie unless something fresh an unexpected is also brought to the table. I mean I have so many ideas for the horror genre that will bring a level of freshness to the table. However, I’ll keep those close to the vest to prevent copycats from taking my ideas and using them as their own.
Here’s a hint though: blood, gore, excessive violence and nudity while troupes of horror don’t always make a movie scary. I’ve been dying for years to see someone give us a classic haunted house flick that was actually unnerving, scary and not your typical tale of a house that had a dark history. Why can’t some houses just be evil people? When you get into that battle of trying to EXPLAIN or JUSTIFY why something has or is transpiring that is where the lure of the movie loses its punch. The audience likes a good mystery; tease us a bit, don’t give us the full story right away, allow us to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
On top of that, suspense matters, suspense matters, suspense matters! Horror is not solely about violence and the fact that so many people equate the two with one another is the reason so many flicks falter. Take a look at the 2002 film “The Ring,” which is a remake of the Japanese film “Ringu.” That was an amazing remake because it relied on suspense and mystery to keep the audience guessing and intrigued from start to finish.
It seems we know have a new trend of remakes being made of remakes, or direct sequels from the actual classic, scrubbing the slate clean with sequels that were just bad or didn’t live up to the hype of the original. Fingers crossed for a bit of originality in horror in the coming years, but I will not hold my breath because Hollywood rarely takes a risk.