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Don't they make scary movies anymore???

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Blu, Mar 31, 2004.

  1. Blu

    Blu Well-Known Member

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    I just saw the Texas Chainsaw remake and alas, not scary. This brought me to a conclusion, either I have somehow become immune to the horror movie genre OR filmmakers just don't know what it takes to tap into the stuff that makes me quake anymore.

    Well the first conclusion really bothered me. The desensitization of myself really bothered me a LOT. I mean I'm the guy who tears up during It's a Wonderful Life and most other sappy films. As far as fear goes though, I can be a tough nut to crack. So I thought I'd watch a few movies that have cause me sleepless nights such as Psycho (I still won't watch the original TCM after seeing it ONE TIME in high school) and to my surprise Psycho is still a extremely scary movie with very very little blood!!! I was clenching my hands and really felt the anxiety that comes along with feeling genuine fear!

    I felt relieved that I could without a doubt feel fear in the setting of a film and I wasn't immune.

    Now my second conclusion is far easier to prove. I just watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. The one film that I won't watch to this very day's modern remake!! It should be bigger, scarier, badder than the first that had very little blood and gore!!! So I thought this would be the ideal film to test my hypotenuse (Yeah I know, it is a joke at work)

    Well after nearly 2 hours of yeah, bigger and badder it wasn't scary. I think I have figured it out though!!!

    Somehow filmmakers lost their way!! They equate gore, blood, and snazzy special effects for fear!!!

    Then I started to think about the last modern horror movie that actually was scary. I couldn't think of ONE! I asked a few of the filmmaking group and for the most part came up with the same results! No one has seen a recent movie that was actually scared them!!! I put forth my hypotenuse and they all seemed to agree, yes films today showed more gore (sort of, Dawn and Day of the Dead were both gory and in some cases gorier than modern films) had bigger baddies, and for the most part fell flat on their big bad scary faces!!!!
     
  2. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Well-Known Member

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    I suppose that all depends on yor definition of scary. I'm not sure I've been actually scared by anything since I was much littler (like 10-12~ish). I still get pretty disturbed when watching Last House on the Left, Halloween, and TCM...but it's mainly just remembering how scared I was when I watched them for the first time.

    I suppose I'm drawn to horror now more as entertainment than for scares. Gore may not always provide fear, but I still love watching the Friday flicks, etc.

    Edit: Forgot to mention...have you checked out Lucky McKee's film May? It wasn't exactly scary, but it was certainly disturbing and haunting.
     
  3. Beau

    Beau Well-Known Member

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    Nothing really scares me anymore and havent since I was like 11 or 12, most horror movies scared me when I was little, but nothing really did anything to me for years. I guess I just seen too much of everything and got desensitizated. I suppose the closest thing to really *scare* me recently was the nighttime cornfeild scenes in Signs(cornfeilds are scary:b). I really hope that something can come along that's actually "scary" again.
     
  4. Neil M

    Neil M Well-Known Member

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    In my case, I'm immune. Nothing scares me anymore. Not even the classics. I think I stopped being scared when I was 10 to be honest. That was the first time I saw The Exorcist and it didn't phase me at all. I really don't know why this is the case but I still enjoy good horror movies.

    I think that maybe the reason might be that I'm older and realize that whatever happens on the screen is not real. When you're younger, you tend to forget that.
     
  5. Pete-D

    Pete-D Well-Known Member

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    Yes and no, I guess.

    Most filmmakers don't know how to properly build tension these days and are more interested in reusing the 1980s conventions of getting an audience to jump.

    I think M. Night... as "loop-holey" as Signs was, is one of the few filmmakers that can scare people in an audience setting (I find his films don't work as well on the small screen, but that's just me). He knows how to build tension, use sound effects, camera angles, etc. to scare you.

    Other thing is yes I do think people have built a sensitivity. It's hard to scare me... I didn't find The Blair Witch Project or The Ring to be scary at all for instance. Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't scary either.
     
  6. Robert Todd

    Robert Todd Active Member

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    I tend to agree with the assessment that the recent crop of
    horror films are not up to the standards of many earlier efforts. Most of them are formulaic, geared to a teen demographic, and have all the subtlety of a baseball bat to the head with none of the impact. Maybe the genre no longer attracts quality writers and directors; perhaps they are afraid of being associated with a genre which has little respect in Hollywood. You mention Psycho, c'mon, Hitchcock was truly "the master of suspense". There just isn't anyone out there with his talent for manipulating an audience.
    Ridley Scott had just moved from directing advertizements
    when he started work on "Alien", yet he understood that showing too much of "the monster" was a mistake, leaving nothing to the imagination. He also did a good job with the atmospherics in conveying the utter isolation and vulnerability of the characters, yet these characters were
    one-dimensional. I could go on, but this film was well conceptualized, and directed by someone who recognized the essential elements in a successful "scary movie". One of the more recent films that I personally think WAS well written and directed, although it doesn't pigeonhole exactly into the horror genre is "Signs". You never really get a clear, unambiguous look at the aliens, and the
    suspense elements are successfully implemented. The director again, effectively isolates the characters, making them seem more vulnerable. The protagonists in this film are NOT cut-outs, but this is an exception, and I think it is primarily a question of quality writing and direction.
     
  7. Justin_S

    Justin_S Well-Known Member

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    Not many films have ever scared me, but I don't have to be scared to love a horror film. Still, the scariest film I have ever seen is The Blair Witch Project. Perfect use of the fear and terror of the unknown. Anyways, they do still make scary films today. Just because some films don't scare you or me doesn't mean that other people aren't scared by them, and its all a matter of what works for a certain person.
     
  8. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Well-Known Member

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    One of the stations in LA was running a Twilight Zone marathon back in 1994 or so. I fell asleep watching the one with the tiny robots from space - I awoke at three in the morning, and right in front of me was a vintage episode, looking like it was shot on video, of a woman in a patient's gown walking down the silent hallways of a hospital. She came to a door with a window, and suddenly saw the face of a Nurse, as the music kicked in, a creepy sustained single note by some violins or a theramin or early synthesizer.

    Scared me to death. Maybe it was that early "just woke up" state, or the silence of an apartment at 3:00 in the morning, but I was seriously freaked out.

    Another bit of film that scared me silly was the ending of Looking For Mr. Goodbar - just comes out of nowhere (won't spoil it)...that scared me worse than any splatter film I've seen since Halloween.

    Red Dragon had a few good moments, and The Ring had an eerie surrealism...but let's face it, the older you get, in our pampered society, the concept of Evil as a primal force in the world is diminished day by day. You look at some old silent films -- those guys had a firm grasp on Evil as an elemental force, a force of nature. Today, Evil is an aberration, a perversion, a twisted side of humanity that we can understand. Evil in the old silent films like Nosferatu or Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was implaccable, unrelenting - there was no arguing, no rationale, Evil and Death had come. Creeping slowly up the stairs.

    That is scarier than the attack...the creak of the stair, the apprehension, the understanding that death and evil exist and you are weak in their grasp.

    A crazy man chasing you with a chainsaw or Freddy Krueger dropping puns and one-liners just isn't the same thing. Today, we have MTV horror films, full of shock cuts and gross images.

    On New Years Day, I screened Salem's Lot for a group of middle-school girls, and they went freaking crazy during the scene where the two men are driving a big heavy crate back to town. In the rear view window, you can see the crate scooting closer...and closer...and closer to them as they speak. That scared them. The little boys scratching at the windows, asking you to let them in. That scared them.

    One of the girls was a huge Vampire fan, (being a middle-school girl, this meant she liked all the "romantic" Vampire movies and books, like Dracula 2000 and The Vampire Lestat). She was *hyperventilating* with fear after the "prison" scene, where Count Barlow paid a silent visit on a prisoner. She was gasping for air she was so scared.

    All this for a movie made for television in the late 70's by a man who knew how to scare you. Granted, the girls were 12 and 13 years old, but it was a hoot to see this old 3-hr. movie play them like a fiddle.

    Anyway...of recent films, only the Shelob scene in Return of the King ranks as "scary" in my book.
     
  9. Mike~Sileck

    Mike~Sileck Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the Signs comment, and I've gotta confess that The Ring got to me as well. (As well as ... Joy Ride .. yes, but take into consideration I watched it first time on HBO in a motel at 3 am (no joke)) I think part of a movie's effect on you is based on your preparation going into the film. If you walk into it telling yourself its just a movie, you won't get absorbed into it, and won't be scared. That's why I prefer watching movies at home, where I can control the environment. No silly teenagers screaming to take my concentration from the film, or sticky floors or anything. I can take out all light (cept for damn dvd player lights!), and make it seem that I'm part of the movie, with nothing to bring me out of it (distractions). Once you reach this point, I feel it is a lot easier to get scared.

    Oh and to all the Texas Chainsaw haters ..Doesn't the idea of getting hung up on a hook like a piece of meat scare you?
    .. I sure know it would scare the hell out of me!


    Just my 2 cents...

    Mike
     
  10. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Well-Known Member

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    I didn't like Signs. Two reasons -- 1) I've seen too many movies, and so, everything including the ending was telegraphed by the first hour. And 2) Mel Gibson did not regain his faith, as the movie suggests. Faith is belief without proof. In Signs, Gibson is a priest who never humbled himself before God, blamed God for a tragedy, and came to believe God did not exist. By film's end, because of the events of the last act, he decides to put on his robes again. On the one, he's a pretty lousy priest. On the other, you saw this coming from a mile away. You start a movie with a main character who has lost his faith (see The Exorcist, Seventh Sign, hell even Peter Vincent in Fright Night), you better believe that odds are, by the end of the film, the character is going to find faith. Signs (for me) is more like a mathematical equation than a movie, an exercise in storytelling. It bored me, cause I knew everything that was going to happen. I enjoyed The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable tremendously. Unbreakable tricked me, Sixth Sense didn't. Signs didn't. I liked the characters in Sixth Sense, and was surprised by their stories. Didn't like Gibson's character in Signs. I respect the movie, but didn't enjoy it.

    Though that video sequence of the birthday party in Mexico was sure fun. Audience went nuts.
     
  11. RobertR

    RobertR Well-Known Member

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    It's very difficult for me as an educated adult to be genuinely scared merely by depictions of the supernatural, because I know it's not real. With regard to non-supernatural horror/suspense films, I think today's filmmakers show essentially no creative ability to create a sense of genuine fear and dread. It's just FX-based gore, loud noises, and such.
     
  12. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Well-Known Member

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    I hear what you are saying Ernest and yet the less is more approach of MNS makes his movies scarier than the outright gorefest of other fare such as DOD, Freddy, Jason, TCM etc.

    I found the first 30 minutes of Jeepers Creepers pretty tense. As well - Wrong Turn was pretty good too.
     
  13. RodneyT

    RodneyT Well-Known Member

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    i have to agree with this. The long tracking shot from the two teenagers POV, watching the Creeper drop his victims into the well, then turn and stare at them until they drive past the line of sight.....

    this was just the freakiest thing i have seen in ages: i still have dreams about it.

    Generally, though, i agree that most scary films rely more on "boo" moments and gore. For me, the idea of seeing brains and blood splattered about the place is less scary than a good build-up of tension, a bit of humour and then some really terrifying action. The final five/ten minutes of Blair Witch Project is some of the most terrifying stuff ever committed to film. Wrong Turn, well thats more gross than scary....

    And as for the remake of TCM: i watched it last night, found the picture horribly dark and annoyingly unclear, and just a pointless exercise in running and screaming. Still, for some people, that nightmarish situation is as scary as hell. Just a difference of opinion i think.

    Oh, and I class every Adam Sandler film in the "horror" genre. FYI.
     
  14. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Well-Known Member

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    Nope...

    Havent been scared by a horror movie since 11-13 or so... Could have to do with the quality nowadays is just dreadful, boring, and unscary... Maybe they just dont affect me because I have seen so many...

    I almost feel sorry for the people who were scared by Freddy vs Jason... How could anyone possibly get scared by that turd of a movie??? I was sitting waiting for the movie to end because it was so boring and uninvolving...

    Oh well... I have memories of when horror did scare... Better than nothing...
     
  15. Tommy G

    Tommy G Well-Known Member

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    I think it mainly has to do with what the filmakers intent is. If it is a gore movie with a bunch of one-liners (ie Freddy Krueger) then that is exactly what the audience probably expects and wants. It is more of a humor film than scary. I know I am going to get lamb-basted on this one but I was up all night after I saw The Blair Witch Project in the theater. There is something about the "unseen" that just seems scarier to me. The Others was another film that had me with that uneasy feeling afterwards and that had more to do with the fact that she killed her children than anything else.
    There are also those films that are eerily suspenseful where you just don't know what is going to happen and get shocked by the ending like The Sixth Sense or The Vanishing (Spoorlos not that horrible remake attempt that Hollywood tried to pull off). Another factor is that some of those things that shocked us way back when (Psycho, Jaws, The Exorcist) have been used up already and writers are hard pressed for originality. Just my 2 cents.
     
  16. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Well-Known Member

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    Watched the Texas Chainsaw remake last night. It got a resounding "meh" from me. Other than the required and oft-used shadowy-figure-runs-past-camera-with-sudden-music-sting, nothing really startled me. Meh.

    I remember being scared by movies when I was younger. Not so much any more.

    Oddly enough, one of the shows that creeped me out the most (and still does a tad) is John Carpenter's "The Thing".

    Exorcist still creeps me out to some degree...especially the new spider-walk scene. I know some people thought that was silly, but it just sent shivers up my spine. [​IMG]

    Blair Witch bored me to tears.
     
  17. george kaplan

    george kaplan Well-Known Member

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    Lots of movies disgust me, but that's not the same as scaring me. To the degree I'm scared, it's far more due to suspense and creepy atmoshpere than gore which is just designed to disgust.
     
  18. Julie K

    Julie K Well-Known Member

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    The closest I've ever come to being truly scared was while watching Trekkies.

    I'm simply not scared by horror though. I love the genre but it doesn't scare me. I'm able to suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the movie, but afterwards? I have no belief in the supernatural but I do believe that a .45 is the best solution to a chainsaw wielding maniac or weirdos making noise and stick figures in the woods. Horror movies do not give me any fear or concern or tension outside the movie itself.

    That said, I love both TCMs. The original has some nice black humor and chainsaws are just plain fun in any movie. I found Blair Witch tedious and boring and I absolutely loathed the characters.
     
  19. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Well-Known Member

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    There are poor attempts at horror these days, but I would argue that we have plenty of small gems as well. I actually don't think there is any large difference in terms of the good to bad horror ratio today than there was in any other period. We're just picking and choosing the best of the past and forgetting the innumerable poor offerings of the time.

    For me, I still can get scared during a movie, although I would call being 'scared' as being either disturbed or creeped out. Of course, as we've all been exposed to more and more films, the chances of us being caught by relatively cheap 'jump scares' drops off precipitously. But those films that really try to establish the right atmosphere still work on me immensely.

    As I provide examples I anticipate that many will think that they didn't find it scary or didn't find it particularly good, but this is all a subjective opinion and also dependant on your state of mind going in. If you walk in cynical to a 'scary' movie, you are highly unlikely to get any enjoyment out of it.


    The Ring, 28 Days Later, Below, Blair Witch Project, The Devil's Backbone, and Stir of Echoes are all what I would consider very good recent additions to the list of good scary movies. They all create a create atmosphere and then populate it with well crafted characters (even if you end up not liking them, as in BWP). Some, such as 28 Days Later and BWP are able to tap into the documentary feel that helped make TCM such a success.

    In addition, I would say that Panic Room is a great example of how to keep an audience balled up in tension for nearly a straight hour.

    A good story of an interesting failure can be found in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, which billed itself as an old school horror movie. I would call it an interesting failure because you can see many of the trappings of a good horror movie inside of it. The film tries to create a surreal world of danger through the multimedia bursts between scenes, which may have worked if it wasn't done quite so haphazardly. I imagine that, better realized, it could be a very effective tool for a future film. An example of how it can aid a film would be Natural Born Killers, which also had the challenge of presenting the surreal world view of a pair of murderers.

    I would also say that he was really onto something with Sid Haig's Captain Spaulding, in that he created a great character to introduce the movie to the audience. He is able to establish the core storyline in a very interesting way with a good bit of menace and joviality that I found very effective. It was unfortunate that the really dangerous people in the film at the house are nowhere near as effective nor as disturbing.
     
  20. WillG

    WillG Well-Known Member

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    The key to any good horror film has to be about the characters first I think. We're not going to be scared so much by what we see on screen (unless what you are seeing taps directly into your own personal fears) We get scared for what could potentially happen to a character we have gotten to know. Someone mentioned that in Alien the characters are one dimetional, which is true. But, at least that film gave us a significant amount of time with the characters before they started getting offed. You don't know a ton about them, but you know what you need to, that they are ordinary, everyday people who work in space. Why is the scene in the air shaft with Dallas so suspenseful, because you know in your mind that something horrible is about to happen to this character that we have come to appreciate. Probably would not have had the same effect with the untrustworty Ash. I think John Carpenter's "The Thing" had that going for it as well. I don't know why so many horror film makers think that the films have to center around teens. Maybe it's the idea of such a premature death that they think is going to be so scary. It can be pulled off occaisonally, but you really have to make sure it is given care. "Halloween" revolved around teens. But, it was but 3 girls who, once again, had been given enough screen time so that they registered in our minds. Bad horror films just give us too many for us to process. They are on screen for like minutes, until their death scene. Why bother, who cares? Bad horror films give us character that that we actually route for to be killed. We are relieved when it happens. How is that scary?

    I think the score is vitally important as well. Alien had a great one. Subtle, but there when it needed to be. Carpenter also understood this. The Shining greatly benefitted from the score as well. Jaws...need I say more? Even some of the early Friday the 13th movies at least had that going for them. Nowadays it's often little more than a soundtrack with the current popular teen music.

    I think those two elements are a huge part of the equation. Next you need the atmosphere, your score is half of that. Make sure the settings capture the mood you are looking for.

    If you get that stuff right, your antagonist could be almost anything. Just don't show it in every detail right from the start.
     

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