I'm going to start this article by saying this: To say I love horror is understatement of the century. Halloween and Scream are 2 of the earliest films I remember watching at about the age of 4 or 5. Halloween terrified me so much that I had recurring nightmares for absolute months and once ran out of a shop screaming because of the Michael Myers statue on a shelf. It is the genre that has inspired me to go and study practical film making and script writing at university and it has given me the countless days just watching any horror film I can get my hands on.This article is not going to be me reviewing horror films but instead I am going to justify my title statement.
Horror is a scrutinized genre. Many, many people think horror is a disgusting genre that inspires murder and violence in people. There have been occasions where parents and people have wanted to have horror trailers pulled from airing on TV (Silent Night, Deadly Night) and entire countries have banned horror films because of their content (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Spit on your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust). This makes me sad, to try and ban a genre that has been in cinema since the very beginning. Le Manoir du Diable is cited as the first horror film way back in 1896 and has been followed by hundred upon thousands more. Although horror films are filled with violence, humanity is filled with violence, always has and always will.
The problem comes when children are not taught the difference between real life and fiction. There is a level of responsibility that falls upon parents to teach their children about what they are watching. I have always been taught that what is on film is always fake (despite some real animal violence in the occasional film) and that if I were to ever emulate what I saw, then I would not only be in serious trouble but I would be a criminal. I have never wanted to re-create what is depicted on film because I know it's wrong. I know, what is morally wrong and I know not to emulate it because I was taught about it by people who I looked up to. Responsibility falls upon parents and adults to teach children about film and special effects and the difference between fact and fiction, not ban them from ever being watched because there is a time where pretty much everyone will watch a horror film. Whether it is in an English class ( I watched An Interview with the Vampire, Frankenstein, The Hills Have Eyes and The Sandman from year 7-10) or being a rebel at a sleepover and watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There will always be a time.
Apart from Science Fiction, there is no other genre of film that brings together a community of fans than Horror. Every year conventions are held in the support and celebration of horror and rightly so. I am part of so many horror fan pages and websites and I love to see hundreds of people conversing with people over their favourite horror films and memories with horror films. I don't see romantic comedies with a community like horror.
There are more horror movies on shop shelves that anything else. Rows upon rows of horror films fill pretty much most DVD shop where I live in the UK. I'm not saying that all these films are cinematic masterpieces but the principle is that if horror was not great, they wouldn't be made so frequently. And recently we have seen big studios get behind some amazing horror films, The Conjuring, Saw, The Cabin in the Woods. I would even go so far as to say Gravity is a horror film in the sense that a definition of horror...
...is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's primal fears...
Let's face it, those who saw Gravity probably had negative emotions and many primal fears were played on throughout.
Horror plays on social commentary and social issues. Night of the Living Dead played on racism, Friday 13th commented on pre-marital sex (I am not against that or saying it is wrong) and pretty much every horror film gives feminism a huge boost in the movie industry. There was one comment by a critic (cannot remember who but it's on the documentary Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher genre) But basically he said that horror movies are against the feminist movement because women are killed in horror film. I think he forgets that the horror genre has given the world some of the most inspirational and strong female characters than any other genre: Laurie Strode in Halloween , Ellen Ripley in Alien, Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (its horror) to name a few. If these are not strongly represented woman then I don't who is. Women have been the protagonist of pretty much 90% of horror films (statistic based purely off observation) and always best the killer by the end. Women have a huge voice in horror films and always will do.
So, in my opinion horror is the greatest genre of film because it brings together a community of fans in a way not done by others. Horror is everywhere you look in a DVD shop and they are made so frequently it is hard not to see them. Horror plays on the social commentary in a very smart on not obvious way like some Biopics and dramas do. I think it is about time horror gets more recognition especially from main stream awards, like the Academy Awards Silence of the Lambs was the last winning horror film (to my knowledge) and there have been several since deserving a nomination in something at least (The Others, [REC], The Orphanage, Frailty)
Yeah, horror is the best genre and I would be interest in thinking what the readers think too. Your opinions on the genre as a whole, certain films, social commentary or just to say that I am a bias douche! I am bias yes but everyone is bias.