Let’s face it. Horror movies have a bad reputation. Recently, the genre has consisted of either a remake, a sequel, or, just plainly, an unoriginal, uninspired horror flick. In that way, it’s easy to forget how impactful horror films really were to the industry. Horror filmmakers weren’t afraid to break barriers and cause controversy. Because of these achievements, they have inspired countless horror films to this day, but, at times, it’s hard to find those original ideas.
So, this Halloween, celebrate the old and the new. This year, since Halloween is on a Tuesday, the “Halloweekend” is October 28-30. Each day represents a different horror subgenre and brings two films: the horror movies that have influenced many, and the newer horror comedies that prove that horror can still be original.
Friday, October 28 – Slasher Film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
The slasher film is probably what most people think of when a horror movie comes to mind. With so many out there, there are many patterns that far and few have been able to break. However, all of those – now redundant – patterns can be traced back to one film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Before even classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th, Texas Chain Saw Massacre was the film that shocked and scared audiences everywhere – and still to this day. Not only does the killer himself terrify, but also the ambiance of the film. The direction of each element made a perfect horror film and still holds validity today. Without this classic, the genre would be entirely different – maybe even unrecognizable. Until then, not many took the risk of adding the immense amount of gore and intensity that Texas Chain Saw Massacre possesses. It definitely didn’t hold back on its general grotesque nature. Its mark is definitely seen in a numerous amount of films, including the next pick: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. This movie, in a word, is absurd. There is no denying that this is a goofy, unpredictable, crazy film. Even the title is questionable. Nevertheless, the hilarity is undeniable. Each and every turn the movie takes is absolute insanity, but that’s what makes the film great. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a satire of the “cabin in the woods” slasher film but doesn’t rely on overused jokes that can be seen in any Scary Movie comedy. Though not the greatest in the world, it’s still a fun watch, especially after viewing a film so gory and menacing.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre is available on Amazon Prime and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is available on Hulu and Netflix.
Saturday, October 29 – Gothic Horror: Nosferatu (1922) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
The next day centers around a creature that has been, perhaps, over-utilized over the past ten years: the vampire. Though the Twilight and True Blood series have made the monster into a love story, there was a time when people thought the creature was utterly horrifying – that time, of course, being in the 1920s. Nevertheless, Nosferatu is nothing short of a groundbreaking horror film in the silent era. Though it may not be everybody’s first choice for being on a horror movie list, the film still has its qualities that can get under a person’s skin. The film has inspired not only horror films but the film industry in general. Its ability to still be recognizable today, despite being made nearly 100 years ago, shows just how iconic the film really is. There are even elements of it in the other pick of the day: What We Do in the Shadows. Not only is it hilarious, but it is, arguably, one of the most underrated horror comedy films in recent history. The New Zealand film is a mockumentary on three vampires and, though it’s set in the modern world, these vampires are still stuck in the past. While still being able to have its fair share of scares, What We Do in the Shadows uses its smart wit and charm to its advantage, creating a fantastic balance of horror and comedy that not many are able to achieve. These two vampire features break the mold of the now repetitive vampire film and instead allow more originality in the genre, both with a classic and a dark comedy from 2014.
Nosferatu and What We Do in the Shadows are both available on Amazon Prime.
Sunday, October 30 – Movie Monsters: Night of the Living Dead (1968) and An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Ending the weekend is a pair of cult classics that have made their marks in cinema history. Featuring iconic movie monsters, they both changed the genre and the icon of their respective creatures for years to come. To start, Night of the Living Dead revolutionized the horror genre with its gory spectacle and grisly depictions of the zombie. Similar to what Texas Chain Saw Massacre did to slasher films, Night of Living Dead not only rejuvenated and recreated the zombie creature but also made its mark on horror film history by influencing many horror films known and loved today. Though an independent film, it was able to reach to wider audiences and allowed a breakthrough for horror that continued for years to come. Director George A. Romero’s reimagination of the zombie is what the modern iteration is based on, proving his contribution to the creature as a whole. The second movie also benefited from the film in that filmmakers were no longer afraid to show the far darker and grislier side of horror. An American Werewolf in London epitomizes the horror comedy in that it perfectly blends the two completely different genres, but it is definitely creepier than what a conventional movie in the genre would look like. It’s dark and, at times, even a little uncomfortable to watch with its captivating creature designs. Being one of the few horror films to have won an Academy Award, this film is credited as being one of the biggest achievements in makeup in film. Headed by Rick Baker, it was the first film to receive the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar and was the makeup artist’s first of a record seven wins. The iconic transformation of the protagonist from man to werewolf is gruesome, yet utterly hypnotizing. It’s mind-boggling to think this was made 36 years ago with practical effects, making it, possibly, one of the best visual effects achievements of all time. The transformation scene alone makes it worth the watch, but the entire film deserves its spot because of its great impact on the horror comedy genre for years to come.
Night of the Living Dead is available on Amazon Prime and An American Werewolf in London is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.
Though horror does have a stigma for being cheesy or rudimentary, there are still gems that prove that the genre can produce legitimate films for critics and for audiences. There is no denying that horror films are still a staple of the film industry and should be celebrated as such. Yes, there are many bad horror flicks to choose from and, ultimately, laugh at, but, this Halloween, celebrate the ones that were able to change how people thought of the genre.