It has become a sad state of affairs recently; unfortunately I am not talking about the general election but rather the sorry state of the modern horror film (a little less important then politics but humour me, least it is less boring) particularly within the multiplexes. What with the endlessly rehashed remakes over the past 10 + years it has all grown a bit stale for my liking, not to mention for a few like minded individuals within my circle of horror fans. It seems as though not a month goes by that some studio has released a glossed over and infinitely more technically polished piece of remade trash, case in point May sees the release of the Nightmare on Elm Street re-imagining (seems remake is a dirty word for Hollywood execs) and like most modern horror has been panned by its die hard fan base. And rightly so in my opinion the reasons horror was enjoyable to watch in the first place was down to its raw, gritty and down right dirty feel of it all. No one watches a Fulci film to be intellectually stimulated or a Craven film to have our emotional heart strings tugged, but rather to be freaked out and feel a little sick at the use of practical FX.
So it makes me wonder after the onslaught of Hollywood remakes of trashy classics, has modern horror lost its way. In my eyes I believe it has and if any film is released into cinemas (such as the still fantastic REC) it gets a limited release and quickly pushed on to DVD, making people miss out on some truly terrifying treats, or subsequently released on DVD and in the cinema at the same time. But there seems to be something rather interesting with the straight to DVD releases, they are all really rather good.
It seems modern horror is finding a better audience once again within the home entertainment market, with people and fans more keen to shell out a few more quid to own the film (as opposed to paying a similar price at the cinema) and experiencing terror and a splatterific good time within the comfort of their own homes. Ti West’s House of the Devil was given a limited theatrical release within the UK, while at the same time was released directly on to DVD. It seems Hollywood has missed out on some very good talent here, as HotD is a fantastically slow paced 80’s horror throwback which is better then some of the films it makes references to. Nothing about the film feels rushed or glossed over, it is retro down to its core (everything from its 16mm film feel to its 80’s hand painted film poster) and because of this it feels as though it has been robbed of a decent theatrical release. But because of this it is; much like its 80’s horror roots, relying on word of mouth from fans and appreciators and deservedly so it is receiving praise and good sales because of its straight to DVD status.
George Romero is another good example of a director using old conventions and a subgenre which has a massive fan base to help capitalise on a films success, with the release of Survival of the Dead being released direct to DVD with a limited theatrical release. And again this is another DTV release which is better then his last theatrical effort (excluding the shoddy CGI parts). So just when I thought the modern horror genre was on its last legs with countless remakes and big budget studio films which become overblown and uninteresting, it becomes apparent that the new wave of horror is to be found on the local DVD shelf.
It seems that many of these films would find a limited market if released theatrically (at least from a studio perspective) but with it being released on to DVD it seems to find an accepting audience and loyal fans who except it with bloodied open arms, ready to squeeze the life out of it. Because of this I myself become more excited every time I find another newly released horror gem, which I instantly want to share with my close horror fiends (sorry friends). For instance I Sell the Dead a DTV horror comedy with Dominic Monahan and Ron Pearlman is an affable affair, full of cheap gore and dark humour, not to forget some fun performances and good direction.
So it seems horror legends (Campbell, Englund, Hooper, Romero etc) are doing the smart thing and playing to their fans wishes, so what if the gory glory days of when they released films in cinemas and pulled the punters in on late Friday nights is long gone. Let’s revel in the fact that good horror is still being made, if not directly seen by every tom dick and harry then at least by those that appreciate and accept the genre for what it is worth.
Looks like the new wave of modern horror is to be found in the sitting room with the lights turned off, let’s not shy away from it, embrace it and then others know, who needs overblown torture porn or glossy effects anyway.
VIVA LA HORROR REVOLUTION…..Sort of!