Where oh where did the real horror movies go? – By Nichele Johnston

As I write this I’m watching The Exorcist. Great movie. Great cast. One of the best horror movies ever made. Still scares the daylights out of me out of all these years. They sure don’t make them like this anymore. *sigh*

My disdain for most horror films came to a boiling point several weeks ago. I was watching a brand spankin’ new DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, a DVD that I paid good money for, and what a waste of money that was! An endlessly grim, blood-soaked, god awful movie featuring Jessica Biel in a flimsy white tank top and no bra jiggling away from some freak wearing a mask made from human skin and wielding a chainsaw. Blech! This wasn’t’ the first time I had wasted my hard earned cash on some steaming cowpie of a horror flick and it probably won’t be the last. In my pissed-off-I-wasted-90-minutes-of-my-life-on-this-crap mood I got to thinking about how most horror movies aren’t horror movies anymore. In fact, 90% can be divided up into four main categories.

(Now I’m watching The Howling. Great movie. Great cast. They don’t make them like this anymore.)

Category 1 – The Dead Teenager/Dead College Kid Movie: Ah, where would we be without these? Video store shelves would be a lot less crowded, that’s for sure. And as far as I’m concerned high school horror flicks and college kid horror flicks can be lumped into the same category, the only difference being that one group is slightly older than the other (even if the actors playing them are 30). These flicks usually have about six or seven young people on vacation or whatever. There’s the good girl, the jock, the slut, the nerd and the token black character. One or all of the girls is wearing some cleavage-friendly shirt. Things usually start out hunky-dory until some drooling psycho and/or monster crashes the party and the body parts start flying. Oh, and more often than not, there’s a totally gratuitous sex scene thrown in between beheadings.

Category 2 – The Action Film Disguised As Horror: These suckers are becoming more and more common. They have the hunky hero, the babe who almost always needs to be rescued sometime during the movie, the wise-ass sidekick, the human villain, and the monster and/or drooling psycho. Instead of scares we get chase scenes, fight scenes, one liners flying left and right, and…. oh yeah…the monster and/or drooling psycho pops up every now and then to remind us that he’s there. If I wanted to watch an action film, I’d stick Die Hard into my DVD player.

Category 3 – Horror Movies So Bad They’re A Crime Against Humanity: I’ve had this happen and so have you. I’ve been looking through video store when some video cover catches my eye. The cover art is cool, the movie description sounds exciting. But there are those little red flags: the movie has some has-been in it or it stars no one I’ve ever heard of, it’s plot sounds suspiciously like that of a recent popular box-office hit, or it’s tagline goes something like “If you liked Monster A Go-Go….” But once in a blue moon these actually turn out to be decent little flicks so I decide to take a chance. Nine times out of ten I end up this close to throwing my TV set out the window. I end up watching something that looks like it was filmed in the producer’s cousin’s house with a rented camcorder. No plot, no acting, no lighting. Just a bunch of no-talent morons who make Ed Wood look like Steven Speilberg tripping around on camera not realizing their talents would be put to better use making porn movies.

Category 4 – The Horror Film As ART!: The results of these are always terrifying, but not in the way it’s intended to be. The idiot who has directed a few Christina Aguilera videos gets it in his head that he’s the second coming of Wes Craven and stretches a 3 minute concept into 90 minutes of torture. The director is so in love with the visuals; so busy trying to make everything look so pretty and hip and cool, he forgets to add a plot and a script. Look! Look! This isn’t just horror, this is ART, dammit! Who cares if it doesn’t make a lick of sense, it’s a veritable feast for the eyes! Behold my creation! Then I end up scratching my head and spending the next two hours trying to figure what the hell I just watched. Then I remember that life is too short for such nonsense and use the DVD as a coaster.

Don’t get me wrong; there are exceptions to every rule. I’m just sick of getting stuck with the rotten apples of the bunch when I’m in the mood to watch a real movie.

I’ve just popped Alien into the DVD player. Great movie. Great cast. Again, they don’t make them like this anymore.