horror It thrives in the modern film market. Look at any given week in the box office charts, and you’ll see one or two slashers or supernatural films clogging the top spots. Take a look at the highest-grossing films of all time, comparing budget to total box office revenue, and you’ll notice horror classics like Night of the living deadAnd eraserAnd HalloweenAnd The Blair Witch ProjectAnd Paranormal activity standing out.

Horror not only weighs heavily on its weight, but also carries the film industry. After all, the genre is such a cheap and reliable way to turn a profit, just ask the art guy at New Line Cinema whose job it was to draw the number in the title of a Freddy Kruger movie every time they put out a sequel. Other genres such as westerns and musicals came and went as horror authors stole the limelight.

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It wasn’t always like that. You used to be if you wanted to be a horror director, you better make sure you had a good lawyer. Now you will need an additional accountant to help you count the money.

Make the Greeks proud

Universal Pictures

If ancient accounts are to be believed, and perhaps they were not, the first stage productions held by the Greeks were quite terrifying, the image of hideous Furies sending pregnant women into premature labour. While no one seeing a modern version of a Greek play today would jump in fear, it does highlight one truth about horror: the genre is in a perpetual arms race. What was scary in 1899 didn’t work in 1929, and what worked in 1973 certainly won’t cut the mustard in 2023.

The early pioneers of horror films succeeded with nothing to do with props or special effects. Guys like Lon Chaney built his own facials, but that was about all the help he was going to get from the studios, who took a very simple approach to filmmaking. Not to be outdone, the MGM horror classic freaks It was allegedly so terrifying for its time that one viewer sued the studio after claiming — stop us if this sounds familiar — the movie caused her to miscarry. It was the beginning of the great tradition of lawsuits against horror directors, and in the next few decades studios would severely clamp down and censor anything that was even remotely horrific.

Related: The 20 Scariest Black and White Horror Movies of All Time

More restrained psychological horror classics such as Seconds Prove that a good horror movie doesn’t need to conform to the typical splatter-and-squeak mold. But by the 1970s, horror was taking off in a way it had never been before. Schlock’s anything-goes reputation played out for the post-counterculture generation, a people weary of peace, love, and arthouse home drama. Cue the explosive heads.

Horror ripening?

Dawn of the Dead by George A Romero 1978
United Film Distribution Company

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact point when horror movies took off the kid gloves, but it can be traced back to one specific decade (the ’70s), and maybe a movie or two in particular. William Friedkin The Exorcist He was able to use the threat of panic attacks as a selling point, regardless of the fact that there was little blood or special effects involved. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Director Tobe Hooper chose to cut to the good parts, throwing buckets of red dye at his actors.

The last house on the left Director Wes Craven was well aware of what the audience wanted deep down, so he created utter chaos both on and off screen. He remembers laughing at Wes Craven: The Interviews. “We had a case of people trying to get into the booth, and the showrunner had to barricade himself.” Those same censors send back the cut movies in pieces, removing the most shocking clips to prevent having to scrub bodily fluids from the aisles of the theater again.

Related: 10 Horror Movies That Were Banned But Audiences Loved

But pitfalls of this kind go beyond projectile vomit. before Silence of the Lambs Winning a bunch of Academy Awards, the movie was in limbo, every actor and director escaping from it (via The New York Times). Sean Connery found it disgusting, as did Gene Hackman. Michelle Pfeiffer rejected the script not for its horrific focus on serial killers, but in light of the fact that justice was not served for one of the characters: “I wasn’t comfortable with that ending. I didn’t want to get that out into the world,” (via The New Yorker) But the genie was already out of the bottle. Horror as a genre has yet to return to the shadows after being cleaned up at the Oscars.

Age of blood and guts

Drew Barrymore Scream
Dimension movies

The Exorcist Notorious for sending teens to the lobby to catch their breath, but that was the giallo (Italian horror) Cannibal Holocaust The scandal that made the filmmakers see dollar signs. Director Ruggero Deodato has been charged with murder out of confusion as to whether his on-screen death was real (it wasn’t), and the ensuing headlines did more to promote the film than any advertising or magazine campaign. It was a similar situation in the 1980s when Charlie Sheen of all people wrongly reported a Japanese horror movie Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood As a snuff film for the authorities. by time Blair WitchDirectors were using this controversial blurring of reality as a selling tactic. Ironically, Craven, who pioneered the art of vampirism, chose to resort to meta-commentary and satirical horror films when he made the film. Scream series.

This was the kind of press coverage William Castle could only dream of when he promised to issue life insurance policies should anyone die while watching his horror movie. shocking The year is 1958. Love it or hate it, outrageous, outrageous marketing is the bread and butter of horror. Castle’s daughter once said, “I always say he came up with the gimmick because he was afraid no one would go see his movies.”

How good are recent movies? It’s hard to say, but this particular genre has not yet lost its edge, like movies Terrifying 2 It still causes people to vomit in fear. Visceral intensity is rubbed. The aesthetic pervades traditional war films, Saving Private Ryan Over 90% of the Jason Voorhees franchise. One of the most shocking and non-horror films of recent memory, The passion of Christ, which claimed the life of a woman who had a heart attack during the terrible climactic scene. Horror hasn’t changed to accommodate mainstream sensibilities, quite the opposite.


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