Thursday, May 24, 2007

A New Golden Age of Horror

A little while ago, on the main page of the Horror Film Compendium, I posted a calendar of films coming out in 2007, inspired by the realisation that we were getting a theatrically released horror film every single week this year*. There was even one weekend we had THREE come out (one on Thursday and two on Friday). Excitedly, I turned to my friend tyranist and said, "Wow, we're experiencing a new Golden Age of Horror!"

My friend was kind enough not to roll his eyes. Or at least to wait until I'd left the room when he did it. But I've been shocked to see that the trend hasn't stopped since I made that statement. It's not even slowing down.

Oh, and your mother called. Your father just died. Sorry it slipped my mind.

This is an exciting time to be a Horror fan. Now, don't get me wrong: when I say
we're in a golden age, that doesn't mean that every film that comes out is a good one, or even worth seeing. Horror is a very subjective genre, and what one person considers a horror flick, someone else might consider a Thriller, or a Suspense Film, or a Mystery, or a Supernatural Action Film, or a Period Historical Bestiality Picture, or just plain Sci-Fi. But regardless of personal taste, there are so many outlets for films now: major theatrical releases, minor releases and film festivals, direct-to-DVD (which is a massive market today), direct-to-cable (like the Sci-Fi Channel or TNT), and even internet broadcasting, that you can see more than ever before. You could even argue that video games are a possible Horror market today.

In 2007, there's more of EVERY genre out there, in television, books, and movies.**
It's cheaper and easier to get movies made, seen, and distributed. It may not be easier to sell a script or find an outlet for your work, but there is definitely a hungry market out there, and that should provide a little hope for every would-be Wes Craven or John Carpenter.

Me, I've pretty much always wanted to be a filmmaker (or a storyteller, at least). I still do, though it seems a little less likely for me with each passing year. Still, of the circle I hung out with in college, several work in Hollywood in one capacity or another: one is the creator of two successful TV series, one is a film producer, one has an Emmy, one hosted his own TV show, one is a professional editor, one just directed his first feature film, another just directed his third, and one is an A-list film actor (I initially wrote "B-list," but I have to admit it, he's beyond that now). Boy, it's weird to be the least-successful guy around.***

But regardless of the personal Hell that is my life, it is great to be able to look at a theatre marquee, or New Releases list, or turn on the TV, and see brand new Horror here and on its way.

Through the years of creating and semi-maintaining the HFC, I've often looked fondly on the year 1981 as the best year to be a horror fan. It was then that my all-time favourite film came out, and it was then that the Slasher craze was at its peak. In fact, for a couple of years at least, 1981 was the year we had reviewed the most films from.**** But in spending a moment on the IMDB to see how many films under the keyword "Horror" came out in 2006, I was surprised. No less than one hundred films came up on the search, and the number's a lot higher if you count mini-series and installments of shows like "Masters of Horror" and "Nightmares and Dreamscapes." Even if only one out of four of those is any good, well, you've still got two dozen titles to check out when you've got the time.

And that's another thing we've talked about, tyranist and me. There's just too much
Horror coming out theatrically for two people to see, and more hitting video every Tuesday. It's overwhelming, but in a good way. In 2007, Pan's Labyrinth won a bunch of Oscars. Ghost Rider made over 115 million dollars in the U.S. alone. Disturbia was number one three weeks in a row. And Pirates o' the Caribbean 3 will make an ungodly amount when it opens in a few hours. As long as Horror is making money and/or generating positive attention for the studios (and the indies), then more will be made in 2008. And somewhere in there, the next modern classic is waiting to be discovered.

Horror junkies like me can count their blessings (or maybe "cursings" is more appropriate) to live in a time when Horror is more profitable, more prominent, and more available than any time since the advent of film, let alone the boom following Scream and the aforementioned Eighties Slasher craze. I know it can't last forever, but I'm enjoying this new golden age while it lasts.

Rish "Bronze Age" Outfield

April/May 2007

*Since the calendar will be gone soon, I guess I could list it here:
January: Primeval, El Laberinto del Fauno, The Hitcher remake, Blood and Chocolate

February: The Messengers, Hannibal Rising, Ghost Rider, The Abandoned, The Number 23

March: Zodiac, The Host, Premonition, Dead Silence, The Hills Have Eyes II

April: Grindhouse (Planet Terror/Death Proof), The Reaping, Disturbia, Vacancy, Rogue, Wind Chill

May: 28 Weeks Later..., Captivity, Severance, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Bug

June: Mr. Brooks, Day Watch, Rise: Blood Hunter, Hostel: Part II, Fido, Black Sheep

July: Joshua(?), The Strangers, 1408, Skinwalkers

**Oh yeah, with the exception of the Western.

***Then again, if people can look at me and say, "Well, at least I'm not THAT guy," then
hey, I've done my job.

****Now it's 2005, but with each year, it's harder and harder to see 1981 movies. I will try again, though.


hpekdrm said...

It's 10th anniversary of Horror Film Compendium being oficially dead. BTW it's still online, though harder to find in google than 15 years ago.
Well, I'd like to thank you and tyranist for wasting 10 years of my life. Or even more than that. I got hooked to horrors because of you and will choose "Get Out" over "Moonlight" anytime.

Rish Outfield said...

Hey, thanks for the comment (and the memories).

Bossk Almighty, was GET OUT a great movie! I truly wish that tyranist had accompanied me into the podcasting world, so that we could do an episode talking about what a singular accomplishment that movie was. I didn't get to see it initially (said tyranist refused to go with me, and I didn't have the strength to force him), but I managed to later on, and despite hearing so many positives about it . . . it still managed to be better than I expected. And it stuck with me for days afterward. Every once in a while, there's a movie that is hugely successful, and it truly deserves that success.

Anyway, I miss the HFC. I only see one in every 15 horror flicks released nowadays, but I remember forcing myself to see everything, even if I was sure it would be terrible. And even then, the bad movies weren't quite so bad because I knew complaining about them on the site would be cathartic (and fun).