Halloween in early 1900s was cray...
It's officially Halloween season! Yay, my obsession with creepy things and horror is temporarily acceptable! I'm so ready for this, you guys. I got my pumpkins picked out for carving, decorations are being put up as we speak, and all the horror movies are in queue. Most of the movies are a bit older but that's because they're the best! Yes, we've gotten some incredible additions to the horror genre in the past decade or so, but not the home runs that were coming out in the good ole days.
My guess is as good as yours when it comes to figuring out why so many classic horror movies have remained firmly in the past, but I can share with you my 'educated' guess. Horror was still being explored in the industry, and in the 70's through the early 90's the restrictions for what you could film were becoming fewer and fewer. Breakthroughs were made not just in special effects but also in sound design and editing which greatly shape the mood and atmosphere of a film, particularly horror. Filmmakers were experimenting and taking risks, something you'll be hard pressed to find nowadays.
While I can't say that I don't enjoy a select few of the films that have come from the latest trends in horror films, I can say that they are becoming tiring. The monsters of choice are Vampires and Zombies while we also get demonic possessions or haunted houses filled with jumpscares. Once again, there's nothing wrong with these kinds of films but it’s become the entirety of the genre. From what I've seen from the films of the past, you could have your pick from dozens of different types of ghouls and monsters.
Why don't we go back to that? Back to exploring every facet of horror that mankind has come up with and finding ways to make it fresh and intriguing. If Hollywood ever decides to take the initiative to do that, then I have some suggestions.
With X-Files coming back, you know that little green men with huge heads is going to be coming back into vogue! They most certainly don't have to fit that description, though, as the Kubrick film 'Alien' demonstrated. What's nice about aliens as a concept is that you can get creative with how they look, attack, and interact with their environment. They're supposed to be wildly different from humans; that's what makes them aliens for Pete's sake! Another excellent example is 'The Thing,” one of my favorites! How crazy did those aliens look? The only recent and decent films to come out about aliens, IMO, were 'Signs' and 'Dark Skies' and even those could have been greatly improved. At their core, aliens represent a fear of anything different from ourselves as well as the fear of being taken over by something foreign and losing a sense of self. Too bad Hollywood hasn't realized that this is a fear that can always be effective because it's as old as humans themselves.
These guys get the shaft way too often. All they seem to do is live in the shadow of vampires, which is completely unfair! I think that the thing hurting werewolves the most is that they're associated with ‘roided up hairy men, which can be a hard thing to take seriously. What's missing with the modern interpretation of werewolves is the animalistic ferociousness that they originally had. An unquenchable desire to kill and destroy without preference or mercy. Hollywood would need to take a leaf out of, believe it or not, a card game I'm a fan of called 'One Night Ultimate Werewolf'. It's a fast paced game where the players or 'villagers' have to figure out who the werewolf is while the werewolf plays innocent to keep from getting caught and continue to kill the other villagers. When you take out any aspect of fun from that scenario, it becomes quite frightening. Imagine it now: a small isolated village is suddenly plagued by violent deaths obviously caused by a werewolf but no one knows who it is. Tension, paranoia, and mystery would run rampant and it would be fascinating to watch as a film.
Do you have any idea of the kind of messed up monsters other cultures have come up with? There are many that are quite similar to the ones we're familiar with; Chupacabras are a close, Mexican cousin to what we know as the werewolf. But then you have Japan and their turtle-like water monster called a 'Kappa' that attacks it's victims by sucking their intestines out through the poor souls' anus! Hollywood could go two ways with monsters like these. The first is to make a tongue-in-cheek film in the same vein as the ‘Leprechaun’ series or ‘Slither’, which would be amazing with the right people at the helm. The second would be to have an American travel to another country where its corresponding monster will stalk and eventually try to attack them. The mood could be similar to one I picked up on in the American version of 'The Grudge'. When traveling to a different country, nothing is familiar and there's a sense of dislocation and isolation that can make the fact that a creature you know nothing about following you all the more terrifying.
Seemingly Innocent Female Serial Killers
If I had a dollar for every serial killer film where the killer was male, I'd be rich and probably set for life as the trend continues. But the ones that truly scared me were the female killers, because girls can be terrifying. I know, I am one. Gender norms are the biggest reason for why this is the case because women are generally seen as gentle and nurturing, and when the opposite becomes true, it's shocking and throws people for a loop. But the ones that creep me out the most are women who appear to be helpless or innocent but slowly become cold and sometimes bloodthirsty. Annie Wilkes (played by Kathy Bates) from 'Misery' may be the most famous example but we also have Glenn Close's character in 'Fatal Attraction' and Jennifer Jason Leigh in 'Single White Female'. Why this type of character is never seen in today's movies is beyond me. If you want true gender equality in Hollywood, then they've got to acknowledge that both sexes are capable of horrendous things.
Seriously, this is a huge oversight by anyone who is responsible for making films. I've seen a few smaller budget films here and there but nothing from mainstream productions and it's infuriating! H.P. Lovecraft created the infamous tentacled being and wrote many books that not only make you poop your pants in fear but shake you psychologically! Just think of how amazing the film would look with the advanced computer effects we now have access to. Otherworldly sea creatures from different dimensions, ridiculously creepy cults, and bone-chilling descents into madness, I mean, c'mon! What are you doing over there, producers, twiddling your thumbs?
There's nothing that gets to the little scaredy-cat in all of us quite like a creepy witch. Every culture has their own version of one, and you can't walk through the seasonal department of any store in October without coming across at least one rendition of the old hags. So why are they so unpopular in films? There was ‘Blair Witch Project’ of course and then ‘Drag Me to Hell’ (which was more entertaining than scary) but not much else. One could argue that the plot developments of the Paranormal Activity franchise include witches but they certainly aren't the main focus. I can see how real life Wiccans may become offended or how the trope of scary old lady could be hurtful, but 'Carrie' dishes on fundamentalists and 'Insidious 2' has a troubled trans serial killer so, to me, anything can be fair game. If you look at the overall idea of what witches are, they represent both a fear of the decrepit and aging as well as serve to make children wary of strangers or strange situations. If a movie was made with a child protagonist(s) then you'd be well on your way to making film gold. Scary, creepy gold.
Well that about covers my horror wishlist, now let's hope a bigwig in L.A. steals one of these ideas! What monsters and antagonists would you like to see more of in films? Please tell me in the comments! I'm quite curious...