September 29, 2008

The 31 Days of Horror- Criteria and errata explained...


The Criteria: Was is scary/terrifying/horrific? Was it bloody/gory? Was it well made? Did the plot make sense? Was it visionary? How big of an impact did it have when it was released? Did it change or define the genre? Are we sentimentally attached to it? Did it stay with us after all of these years? 

Be sure to keep this in mind too; every decade that we're dissecting here had its strong and weak points.

The 70's were basically Horror's birthplace; That's not a knock on anything that came before 1970 at all, but just think about it. It really wasn't until Romero came out with Night of the Living Dead and Polanski gave us Rosemary's Baby, both in 1968, that audiences became obsessed with the occult, and wanted a harsher brand of terror. They changed an entire genre. Horror made the jump from being mostly campy, to being visceral, gory and terrifying on a whole different level. Blood and sex replaced rubber suits and cheesy monsters. The movies became raw and brutal, offering a dystopian view of society, in some ways reflecting the horrors of Vietnam. This was a feeling out period for horror film makers, exploring the genre in ways that both shocked and delighted audiences. It was raw and fresh in many ways. Much of it was new. The MPAA instituting a ratings system in 1968 changed things too. The main themes of the decade (although not the only ones): The Devil Possession and Reincarnation Evil children Vampires Exploitation The Deluge of Euro Horror The birth of the Stephen King movie  

The 80's saw Horror moving ahead full bore, the major theme being "masked maniac preying on helpless female victims." The slasher violence was basically a metaphor for rape in most cases. Werewolves also had a strong run for a while, and were better represented on screen throughout the decade than vampires were for the most part. The market for horror was absolutely flooded, which ultimately lead to the genre's decline by the beginning of the 90's. The main themes of the decade: Slashers Teen Horror Horror Icons and the series they spawned Sequels The Decay of Suburban America The Birth of VHS and Direct to Video Horror  

The 90's saw a serious decline in Horror, both in quality and demand. Audiences were so bombarded in the 80's that they just lost interest, and apparently, Hollywood lost the ability to come up with a bunch of fresh, new ideas. There were a bunch of other reasons too, but this isn't a term paper, so lets just say that the 90's was a weak decade for horror for the most part. We can basically thank Wes Craven and 1996's Scream for putting the paddles on the chest of horror and shocking it back to life. The main themes of the decade: Sequels- Too many of them, and most of them crap. Teen Horror- You know, that late 90's Dawson's Creek crap. Cerebral Horror High End Horror The Emergence of J-Horror  

The 2000's started off dead quiet. Luckily for us though, the remake machine began to roll and liven things up! Ugh. There have been some great horror movies so far this decade, but they sit side by side with an equal amount of remade, cookie cutter, unimaginative crap. Thank God for the French. The main themes of the decade: Remakes Reality Horror Psychological Horror A return to violence and gore- Thank you torture porn. The Emergence of French Horror- Thank you France!!!!!!!!! Revisiting old themes from other decades.

So you may look at some of the top 31 films we have selected for the 90's and say "Really? That made the list?" and the answer is yes. The 90's was pretty weak overall. You may say "Why in the blue hell was XXX left off of the 80's list!?!" That answer is easiest of all; there are about 60 movies that could easily be in the top 31, so at some point you just have to pick and choose. "Where are the Sequels? Evil Dead 2 was much better than the first one!" Yeah, maybe so, but it didn't have the same impact as the first one.  

Were not perfect, but we think we got it mostly right: The top half of the 70's was easy to pick; pretty much any of the top 20 could have been top 10. Once you start looking at #20- 31 though, some more obscure films come into play; films that deserve to be included, but may baffle some people who haven't seen a ton of old horror movies. The 80's was the easiest and hardest to do; Tons of great movies to choose from, but good luck fitting all of the deserving one's in, and getting the order right. No matter how many times I rearrange that list, I won't be satisfied. Most likely, neither will you. The 90's was the hardest; it was a thin decade for really good horror movies. If you omit the 12,000 sequels that make up a majority of what was released, you don't have much left. Still some good quality though, just less of it. The 2000's were perplexing; how do we tell what is a modern day "classic" when most of it is still fresh to us.

Do we include remakes? What about these foreign films that a lot of people may not have been exposed to? In many ways, this decade was the most fun to do though, because of these questions. This is where we get to say "See it if you haven't yet!" Fun times. See you on October 1st!

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