Whatever Happened to Horror Movies?

The Highest-Grossing Horror Movies of All Time | Mental Floss

I know this isn’t so for everybody; but for some of us, there’s nothing quite so bracing as a good, clean scare–just the thing horror movies were invented to provide. My wife and I both find a good scary movie very relaxing. Sure, it creeps you out for a time: but then it stops! Don’t you wish real-life problems would just stop, roll the credits, and trouble us no more?

Take a classic horror movie like The Uninvited. No cussing, no nudity, no writhing around in the bed–and no blood ‘n’ guts spattered all over the screen. And all the deaths and tragedies involved are in the past (hence the ghosts). It’s in black-and-white, and none of the characters gets killed. It’d be hard to create something less like today’s horror movies; but The Uninvited packs plenty of good, stiff scares. And having Ray Milland, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Alan Napier in the cast doesn’t hurt, either.

Sometimes we’d like to see a movie that we haven’t seen before. We read the descriptions and rule out the slasher movies. But we still get stung. The last one we saw was supposed to be an H.P. Lovecraft thing, based on one of our favorite Lovecraft stories, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Back in the 20s and 30s, HPL wasn’t even allowed to write gross-out horror. So his tales rely on true creepiness and weird takes on reality. And never mind! This movie soon degenerated into nudity, physical cruelty, and violence that was so far over the top, it was almost funny. The key word is “almost.”

In the last couple modern horror movies we’ve seen, the story always seems to wind up, “And then everybody got killed in assorted nasty ways!” It’s like the writers walked out halfway through the picture and the director’s 12 and 13-year-old kids had to write the rest of it.

Is this telling us something about our culture, that can’t even crank out a proper ghost story anymore?

I think so.

4 comments on “Whatever Happened to Horror Movies?

  1. Yes. I believe repetitive, relentless violence in all its unhealthy forms instills a weaponized fear that doesn’t go away. Those who become inured to it develop problems, which is where our culture is headed, so sin is added to insure a valence of depravity. It’s visceral and out of our control, which we lose. Anything goes. What a nasty plan! A good horror movie just scares us for a moment, feeling the excitement of being safe at the same time. Most people don’t watch a good horror movie by themselves. It’s a shared experience where we laugh at the look on each other’s face. Those who do watch a good horror movie by themselves eat the whole pizza – lol.

  2. I’ll be on the lookout for “The Uninvited.” Our cable channels are playing mostly horror movies for Halloween. We watched “The Shining” on Saturday to see what all the hype has been about that Stephen King film. It was disappointing just as I thought it would be. It is a simple story of a family getting killed by the dad in a hotel in the past, and now a new family takes their place and it happens again.

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