With Halloween quickly approaching, it’s no doubt that many film buffs will be indulging in copious amounts of something other than candy; horror films! It’s just one of those automatic rituals that most people take extremely seriously, often preparing an extensive and specific group of films to watch with their fellow friends in a movie marathon within the safety of their own home.
Today, the horror film is so common that some can say it’s even done to, dare I say it, death, which is understandable with the lack of thought that goes into most mainstream horror movies. That’s because there are those sinister filmmakers/studios out there that only focus on making money and not the quality of the films they put out. That’s what makes the horror genre seem like the laughing stock of the movie universe, with insulting results. While this may be true with most, there are some that give us not only the chills we are looking for but just the overall excitement of a film taking notice of the fans’ intelligence.
That’s why I’m taking the liberty of coming up with an analysis in the form of a top 10 list of the subgenres of horror and basically how they are executed, from the characters, plot, and overall atmosphere the films in the specific category provide. I’ll also take a look on the type of thought filmmakers put into each specific category, because, believe it or not, they are all strikingly different. Now, please take the following list with a grain of salt as I am in no way ridiculing certain categories but rather simply taking note of things I have noticed.
While I will make specific notions to films, it will be more of a focus on only the majority of mainstream films in each category and in no way a look at straight-to-DVD or generic films. You may not agree with what I have to say but remember this is for entertainment purposes only, and is in no way a formal critique that will tear apart a well-loved genre(only playfully make fun of, I promise). The list will be in no particular order, except for the obvious distinction of a “not so top 5” and a “top 5,”because each category does have its flaws, it’s just a little more abundant in others. Now that we got the disclaimers out of the way, without further ado, I bring you the list!
Let’s start right away by getting rid of the elephant in the room first; the dreaded remake. These have become the parasitic virus of Hollywood with one purpose: to leach onto an otherwise original film that may or may not have been commercially successful and watch the money role in from the unsuspecting suckers. This culprit can no doubt be found in any genre, but the horror genre, more specifically, is a reoccurring victim. We normally see remakes occur from popular and even sometimes unpopular (read: campy) films, but in recent history, can spawn from creepy Japanese films as well.
For right now, let’s focus on those pesky 80s remakes (but beware American-Japanese remakes: your next!). What tend to be the more inclined to be remakes are the iconic ones, including such classics as the Amityville Horror, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Nightmare on Elm Street among others. The reason? Their popularity of course! Anyone from the 80s will remember the originals well because they defined the generation. So in return, a common strategy among film studios is to “recreate” the films for the current generation.
Problem is they tend to insult the said generation’s intelligence, just throwing together an uninspired and hastily made disaster. You can’t just visually update a horror film, neglecting the chance to create a faithful yet completely different rendition, and expect it to be good. They manipulate Freddy Krueger’s, Jason’s, Leatherface’s, and all other baddies’ images, like they’re just a big commercial, and I mean the character not the actor, because the remakes (not the sequels) often have a completely different actor taking on the role!
As far as American remakes of Japanese horror films go, one has to just simply mention The Grudge and the groans from horror purists will magically pour in. Japanese horror films are targets mainly because they’re not afraid to go into disturbing territory, with terrifyingly creepy results. I won’t bother delving deeper into the Japanese remakes, solely because everyone universally knows these tend to be laughably bad, so no point in beating a dead horse (although, The Ring has many devoted fans). So again, remakes take that image and mangle it completely, but this time, making it look like a silly over the top B-movie. But, alas, this will be one mistake that will plague movie theaters for all eternity, so let’s move on.