Something I haven't been able to shake is the feeling that horror movies might actually be on their way out as a form of viable entertainment. And I don't mind saying this, in all honesty, I blame the movie "The Blair Witch Project" for being responsible for the worst horror movies being made in the last twenty years. Ever since its release in movie theaters, indie horror movies have sprung up from every corner of the world, having almost no budget and using hand-held cameras as the only real tool to filming everything. The problem with this is the lack of actual production value, and the overall lack of value in any movie. For this reason by itself, the Blair Witch Project is solely responsible for the degradation of promising horror movies everywhere.
Thankfully these idiots died at the end of the movie! If the characters had survived, I would have told the witch to take a break so I could kill them myself. Ever since Blair Witch came out, hand-held cameras everywhere took center-stage in a lot of productions, which is largely insulting to major studios that hope to actually make quality movies, whether horror or otherwise. It also introduced what has become loosely known among fans and filmmakers as "rapid-fire" camerawork. One of the biggest examples of the way Blair Witch is responsible for lazy camera work is if you watch those idiotic "Ghost Hunter" reality shows, where the host/hosts hope to show how brave they are by pretending to be bad-ass ghost-busters. Instead, all they do is make me laugh at their stupidity. How in the hell would anybody actually believe that anything they see on one of these shows is real??? What, you think reality shows don't have scripts??? WAKE UP, YOU IDIOTS!!!
Gone are the days of good horror movies, it seems, where there are actual stories, having been replaced by how much stupidity and TNA can be shoved in with some moron who can barely handle a hand-held camera is expected to be able to maintain shooting viable footage while being brutally hacked to death. Come on, people, focus! I mean, really now! MAKE-UP, dammit!
I remember when "A Nightmare on Elm Street" first came out, now that was scary at the time! There were effects that nobody had tried before, and it started Johnny Depp's movie career! Hey, keeping that in mind, it wasn't all bad. And Freddy Krueger was a scary guy. The rest of the movie franchise were sad jokes of the original, losing more story and helping Freddy spew more bad jokes rather than him actually being scary. It kind of became "A Nightmare on Sesame Street" after a while.
Starting back in 1922, there were generations of horror movies that were ground-breaking and good, but are relatively forgotten today, due to the new-age filmmakers wanting to make their own claim to fame by wanting to do original stuff. Not that this is bad, but respect is due to the movies that started it all. Starting with "Nosferatu" in 1922, the first vampire movie ever made, was an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula". "Nosferatu" is still looked at as the standard for vampire movies if you want to send a chill up someone's spine repeatedly. What makes the movie scarier is the fact that it's a silent movie, with the exception of its demonic soundtrack. "Frankenstein" helped pave the way with Universal Studios to set the tone and map out the field for filmmakers with movies like "The Phantom of the Opera", "Dracula", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Terror". These movies helped launch what would become regularly studied by thousands of student filmmakers for decades to come, whether the studio knew it or not at that time.
Now let's fast-forward somewhat to the late 1950's, where Hammer Studios came in as producers of horror movies, and soon were able to lead the way with now-classic movies of their own. Other studios came in and followed suit provided by Universal and Hammer, creating classics with movies like "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, remakes of Frankenstein and Dracula, and later on with film originals like "The Haunting of Hill House", "The Thing", and a list of others. With so much attention spent on these "new, radical" movies at the time, it was perfect to introduce characters like Norman Bates, who would become unforgettable for all time. And unfortunately, for Anthony Perkins, who wanted to forget Norman all too much!
Now let's fast-forward again, this time to 1973, where America was introduced to "The Exorcist", the graphic as well as gothic ages-old tale of good versus evil in an in-your-face setting, directed by William Friedkin, based on the book by the same name. It's still listed as the scariest horror movie of all time, with "Nosferatu" placing Number Two as the most reviewed. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", supposedly based on a true story. Hahaha! True story, nothing! The actual massacre that happened was in Plainfield, Wisconsin by Ed Gein, the serial killer who inspired Alfred Hitchcock to shoot his trademark movie "Pyscho" in 1960. Another interesting fact is that Gein had never even been to Texas, having been dominated by his mother's insanity so that the guy never really went anywhere. He also never once used a chainsaw, but did use other things, such a shovel or hammer. Gein also helped inspire both Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter and the fictional serial killer "Buffalo Bill" in "The Silence of the Lambs". By the time "Chainsaw" came out, it proved that America was ready for new levels of horror, and they were provided by visionary filmmakers such as George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper and others. Some of the more controversial, such as "Chainsaw", were the STILL-CONTROVERSIAL "I Spit on Your Grave", "The Last House on the Left", "The Omen", "The Hills Have Eyes", and still many others, which seemed to follow a certain counter-culture at the time, which was determined to re-invent horror movies. And for the most part, it worked.
In the mid-1970's we were given new visions of horror to enjoy, beginning with the now-classic Stephen King-adapted movies "Carrie", directed by Brian DePalma; "'salem's Lot", and "The Shining", which has become synonymous with haunted houses and ghost stories, directed by the late Stanley Kubrick. No wonder King hated it so much. "Poltergeist" and "Jaws" came along, and showed us some great terror that we didn't expect, nor could we have.
By the 1980's horror had become as American as apple pie(and God help me for using that tired and out-dated cliche!), and we found ourselves able to enjoy new waves of inspiration for horror movies, which would spawn sequels and terrible rip-offs for years to come. Where John Carpenter left off with his trademark horror movies "Halloween" and "Halloween 2", Sean Cunningham unleashed the beginning of the gore franchise, specifically "Friday the 13th", which would lead not only to worldwide fame but world wide ridicule with the millions of imitators and rip-off schlock artists. Carpenter would also enjoy his greatest successes during this period with other movies that were also original, "The Thing" was a huge cult classic, but not a box office hit by any means. Sadly, the same was said about "The Fog", both were hailed as not only original but scary and profoundly creepy. Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" movies, Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" series, "Hellraiser", "Fright Night" and "the Lost Boys" were all cult favorites that garnered wide acclaim and plenty of money for the studios.
By the time the 1990's came in horror movies were visibly tapering off, almost as if the industry were running out of gas and patience for what made it so much money at one time. Very few movies came out at the time that were noticeable by movie-goers, such as "Interview with the Vampire" in 1994. "Silence of the Lambs" in 1991 was the most entertaining movie at the time, not only scaring people to death but also giving truly forensic insight into a case that no one had explored in this way before. It also won a number of Academy Awards, which was rare for a horror movie, notably Anthony Hopkins winning Best Actor for playing Hannibal Lecter, whose character was inspired by Ed Gein and Albert Fish.
Through the 90's the "Gore and Effects" generation helped set back and dry up horror movies as a legitimate for of entertainment, so much so that it became laughable that anyone would actually want to make a horror movie at the time, and studios became weary of backing anyone or any horror projects. By the time the new century was coming, disaster movies were far more entertaining than actual horror movies, which focused mainly on "the end of the world", feeding a world which waited for the actual end of the world. Yeah, I know, it's stupid, but that was the paranoia at the time. An almost non-existent re-igniting of the recently deceased "slasher" genre lasted briefly, but with no real successes.
The early 2000's were lazy and had no real ground for horror movies, no money was being made, and it seemed as though horror movies were quickly becoming a thing of the past. "The Blair Witch Project" came out in 1999 and quickly became the most successful indie-made horror movie in history, which made every slacker and film school dropout grab a hand-held camera and make similar tries at the movies. Unfortunately this did nothing to help the filmmakers of the new century. The only real resurgence in the horror movie genre seems to be zombie movies or badly made remakes of classic 1970's horror movies. George A. Romero seems to be the only filmmaker who's enjoying the zombie resurgence, while everyone else struggles to come up with something new, only to find themselves lacking. A handful of modest vampire movies seem to gain attention, most notably "Let Me In" and the "Blade" trilogy, starring Wesley Snipes. "Saw" holds the world record for the highest-grossing horror franchise in history, as if that means anything now.
The most recent horror movie let-down has been the "Paranormal Activity" movies, which has become a literal last-ditch attempt to revive horror movies, which can't be good for the people who actually fund these lackluster movies that can't stir a scare out of anyone I know. With such retarded, half-assed writing and filmmaking, I can only hope that if the horror movie does die in the near future, then I hope it happens quickly. Because the idea of having to watch anything this stupid bearing the name "Paranormal Activity" attached to it, makes me want to fall asleep and not watch another horror movie ever again. And with the way it stands now, it's probably better off dead or un-dead. Whatever works for you, but obviously we've seen the beginning of the end of good horror movies.