Monday, May 2, 2011

Horror Movies That Changed the Genre Forever

NOTE: What to do with Osama's body? Stuff it, put it on display and let folks throw shoes at it for an eternity!


"Halloween" Budget is not everything. A good soundtrack and suspense and you can film anywhere for any cost, even trying to pass off LA as Illinois in autumn with a few dead leaves and a high power fan. Other movies have worked with these elements to try and perfect the cheaply made eerie feel, but it was a mixture of timing and talent that made John Carpenter the king of this particular advancement in the horror industry. Since that time, movies like "Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity" are examples of the low-budget movie, but their success wasn't from a bunch of eager teens wanting to go see horror movies in the late 70s audience that Carpenter attracted. Instead, they used the internet to hype up their films beforehand only for people to go in and feel ripped off. They just didn't deliver. Strangely, "Halloween" did not hype itself up and yet the teens found it and wanted to see it. In fact, they liked it so much that to this day, I still watch it every October at least a few times and sometimes I sneak it in during the year too when I'm in the mood. Nobody did it better, but hopefuls still keep trying.


"Psycho" The killer could be an innocent-looking neighbor. It was psychological and it was disturbing. Movies like "Silence of the Lambs" have done a fine job of taking this kind of "twisted mind inside" theme and made it into some quality movies. The killer next door scenario is a good one, just look at "Scream." We really never know what's going on inside of someone--the inner battle, the demons they must fight or give in to. These movies took "Psycho" and ran with it.


"Night of the Living Dead" Cannibalism--the last truly horrifying prospect. This movie changed everything from what we consider the enemy (our own dead selves) to making zombie movies an enormous industry. There have been some outstanding zombie movies since, but no one quite captured the innocent world turned black and white/right and wrong/alive and dead in quite the same way. Others have taken the theme and gone to extremes like "Zombieland" and "Fido," and a few have just amped up the gore and effects like "Dawn of the Dead" remake, but they can't quite shock us like that movie made in the 60s.


"Exorcist" Demons, religion and possession--a deep human fear. Is there anything more terrifying than the possibility you will not go to heaven? That something darker and more powerful than goodness could take over your body and make you do things you don't want to? This movie was innovative and risky but it paid off. The truth is, religious upbringings and belief systems are deeply seated and disrupting them is one of the most frightening things for those with strong faith. Other movies came along that enjoyed that theme too like "The Omen" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," but for sheer freak-us-out factor, nothing like "The Exorcist" had come before, so it was a game-changer.

Can you think of any other horror movies that changed the genre?

10 comments:

  1. Night of the Living Dead. Classic!! :D

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  2. It doesn't get better than movie! I adore it! It's the most perfect watch-in-the-dark movie. My son's online name is "beatemorburnem" (a line from the movie "beat em or burn em, they go up easy." haha So, apparently, the love for it has gone on another generation.

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  3. i think Halloween was scored just right for hormonally charged youth scare.

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  4. bU;
    Yeah. It's a classic and does remind me of my teens and the slasher epidemic in movies at the time was just the right scary message to the crazy living kids in the 70s.

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  5. These movies are definitely in my top 10 horror movies, along with The Shinning and the (Original) Amityville Horror. I don't think, at least I hope not, these movies will ever lose the love from us horror fanatics. As Zombie said, they're classic and by far better than some of the modern 'horror' that has come out.

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  6. Definitely! I wish someone would be ballsy enough to realize that they need to jump on the late 70s/early 80s bandwagon and go back to what worked because people still keep pulling up those old ones and comparing them. A lot of CGI and full-on monster action is not scary, it's just overstimulating. The best thing to do is not make us numb with overstimulation, but instead give us tantalizing glimpses to make our senses super sharp and alert, ready to jump with any tiny thing. It's the same way for sex. If only men would get that! Jeez, there's another post I need to write!

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  7. The mind knows our true fears and desires, and that's where they are best encouraged and stimulated.

    It's like I always say: The way to a woman's heart (or anything else) is through her mind.

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  8. This is an excellent list, Sharon. I might add 1984's A Nightmare On Elm Street because it broke the previously established slasher flick mold, as well as Blair Witch (we can agree to disagree on this one). Several "found footage" films had been made before, but Witch perfected the formula and, like Psycho, created a sharp divide among the audience. Some people indeed thought it was an over-hyped, piece of shit, but others (like me) thought it was the freshest thing they'd seen in years. But the real testament to its impact is in how often it's been imitated, parodied, and referenced in popular culture over the years.

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  9. BL;
    Yes, I agree! That hype of lost footage is an alluring one. Blair Witch Project actually was very unsettling. It had that feel like Last House on the Left where you felt like you were one of the people on this trek through the woods and terror. When it came out, it really was a cool element, but I must admit that further ones like Paranormal Activity just left me cold. I went into it knowing it was supposed to look like reality, but reality TV pisses me off so much with their being NO reality to it, that PA actually seemed like a rehearsed contrived episode of the Gene Simmons show. Had we not been inundated with fake reality so much, it might have still seemed fresh to me instead of being so jaded by the concept.

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  10. The Exorcist was well done a good story.

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