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Lately I’ve heard a lot of people discussing horror movies and how there are never any good ones made anymore. Reviews all over discussion boards rip into every crappy new release as if it speaks for the whole genre. Disgruntled horror fans complain that all new movies are either remakes or torture porn, a category I would personally love to see banned from the face of the earth. They bemoan the lack of originality and point to some heyday of horror movies when everything released was either The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby because time has a way of burying the questionable stuff and painting a nice coat of rose-coloring over anything Roger Corman directed.
Take it from someone who watched a lot of Mystery Science Theater as a child, teenager, and adult: there were tons of bad movies made back in the day and even some of those movies we think are classics were spurned when they were first released. Wes Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street was turned down by all of Hollywood because they all thought it was too boring, since at that time all that was being sold was formulaic slasher flicks. When New Line gave the project the green light, the studio was told there was no reason to put that much thought into a horror movie. There has never been a heyday. Horror has always been the redheaded stepchild of the movie world.
“Horror has always been the redheaded stepchild of the movie world.”
Some people will go so far as to say there are good horror movies being made currently but none of them are American. That is also untrue. Distance and time do the same thing, so it might seem like every movie from Korea or Norway is brilliant but really, we just get the good ones.
They have some really fantastic movies but so do we. Does the Saw series need to exist? I have yet to see a need for it. Does Rob Zombie need to look up the word subtlety? It couldn’t hurt. Are these our only options? Not even close.
Horror is a really interesting category for humans to create and before I delve into another topic I have a lot of useless information on, let me assure you horror has some captivating historical roots. We can even stay in fairly recent history and just go back as far as the Victorian era when discussing our fascination with frightening ourselves or stay really close and talk about the b-movies of the fifties that all had to do with radiation, bombing and our own destruction. Horror is a very clear window into the fears we are holding onto as a society.
Now, even among the world of new unusual, indie-horror movies there can be a lot of crap so when navigating the horror movies of today, keep the horror movie rules in mind:
1. The more grotesque the name, the more awful the movie will be
2. Anything with a cast exclusively made up of teenagers or early twenties folks will be painful
3. Check the number of writers involved and if there’s more than three, engage only for comical purposes
4. Disregard big names. Stars get roped into doing things and it really has no bearing on the movie whatsoever
5. If there are power tools on the poster, you can probably skip it. This one isn’t always true but until the MPA takes my calls and separates torture porn from real horror, this will have to do as the canary. If you see power tools, the air’s polluted and you’re about to be really disappointed with the decision you made.
Still don’t believe me? Here’s a list, it is in no way complete or in any particular order, of some of the best new horror movies:
The Bleeding House
A Serbian Film
In the House of Flies
Lady Vengeance (the whole series)
House of the Devil
Cabin in the Woods
John Dies at the End
Nervo Craniano Zero
The Loved Ones
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