Horror has become big business these days and you can hardly have failed to notice the waves of the undead shuffling, flying or bounding across screens big and small. With a plethora of assorted suckers, rippers and biters, horror fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to grisly supernatural thrills.
There are a ton of psychological theories about why we love to scare ourselves silly with these films. But whatever the truth, many of us just can’t help but subject ourselves to what one might call a safe scare. All the adrenalin and terror without any real danger (despite what some cunning marketing people would have us believe).
We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” – Stephen King
What would the creators of Nosferatu or Dracula make of all this ghoulish entertainment? Would Mary Shelly find our modern day monsters a little OTT? Could George Romero have ever imagined we’d become so addicted to the brain-munchers?
Sadly we can’t dig up any of those illustrious figures to ask them, but I suspect they may all have been a little taken aback at the way grisly horror dramas have become so mainstream and popular. We could of course ask George Romero, but apparently he doesn’t like The Walking Dead, so screw him (Sorry George).
Whether you prefer the classy, gripping horror / drama of The aforementioned The Walking Dead, or perhaps the saucy supernatural shenanigans of True Blood, TV producers have continued to supply us with fresh blood by the bucket-load. And we are suckers for more.
Of course unlike the eternal subjects of these shows, nothing lasts forever, and this genre’s popularity may soon fade. But I wouldn’t stake my life on it..
I grew up in the 70s watching the UK’s sometimes hammy Hammer Film Productions movies – Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, et al. Britain’s Carry On comedy team sent up the genre rather wonderfully in the 1966 movie Carry on Screaming (pictured left).
But it wasn’t until the US brought us The Exorcist in ’73 and later more classics like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that I began to fully appreciate the joys of a good scare.
For me The Shining is a personal favourite and still ranks as one of the all time greats, a masterpiece of (mostly) quite understated terror. But I do have a soft spot for the hilariously OTT genius that was The Evil Dead and John Landis’s ground-breaking (and often hilarious) An American Werewolf in London. And let’s not forget the creepy setting and mind-boggling special fx of horror maestro John Carpenter’s The Thing. One of those rare occasions where a (splattery) remake of a well-liked original was very welcome.
There have been scores more great spine-tinglers to keep us on the edge of our seats over the years. Japanese classics like Audition, innovative low budget surprises such as The Blair Witch Project and (literally) gut-wrenching sci-fi horrors, like Ridley Scott’s superb Alien.
From Argento to Cronenburg, Hitchcock to Raimi, there’s never been any shortage of great directors to deliver the blood, splat and fears, and keep us throwing our popcorn into the air, or hiding behind sofa cushions.
Nowadays with movies it’s often more about franchises, remakes and reboots. But TV horror series continue to innovate, often thanks to some superb graphic novel sources and visionary writers and production teams. They do have the obvious advantage of having much more time in which to develop characters and storylines.
But what would I write if I were contemplating dipping my toe in the piranha-filled waters of horror fiction? Well so far I’ve managed a short story set on the London Tube system, that I thought wasn’t too bad. But I’ve yet to take the plunge and take on a novella or full-blown novel, let alone a screenplay. If I did, it might possibly feature some or all of the following characters:
Nanpires – grey haired, sweet and lovable, they like to knit and bake apple pies. Until they get hungry for blood. Then those knitting needles come in very handy.
Wearwolves – tragic fashion victims, these emaciated creatures spend all of their time and money on looking stylish. But come the full moon, the clothes get ripped along with the throats.
Zumbies – addicted to dance classes, they spend hours working up a sweat at the gym. But once the music stops, it’s brains they’re after. Your brains. And these guys are fit enough to catch you!
Polterguests – they say they just want to stay for a few days. A week tops. But then three months pass by and you still can’t get rid of ’em! Who ya gonna call?
What would feature in your faves list of horror classics? Have you had a really good scare recently? Do tell.
© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.
Image sources – unknown. Don’t know who made the giant hamster pic, but kudos whoever you are.