Wednesday, September 25, 2013

HAS THE DESIRE FOR NOSTALGIA LIMITED HORROR CREATIVITY?

We are the exact same cereal except for marshmallow flavors! Yet, you'll still buy this.
As the Halloween season rears it’s creepy little head, horror fanatics are quickly scooping up every last themed item we can get our hands on.  Unlike the general populous, we’re the sorts of people that enjoy shoveling Boo Berry into our mouths year round, instead of only indulging throughout October.  This year, we’ve been lucky enough to be re-introduced to hibernating monster cereals, Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy.  With Target exclusively selling “vintage” boxes of these cereals, my Instagram feed has been flooded with Pumpkin Spice lattes and the Halloween themed horde of specialty foods everyone has been purchasing.  When Pepsi releases classic bottles, people don’t flood their stores in search of them, but for some reason, nostalgic Halloween goodies are always hard to find.  Why?  Horror fans live for nostalgia.

This scene isn't that cool, BUT LOOK AT ASH'S CAR!!!!!

The horror genre is one incredibly inspired by a sense of Nostalgia.  When films pay homage to a classic look or kill in a horror film, we lose our minds in excitement.  I couldn’t tell you how idiotic I must have looked during a screening of DRAG ME TO HELL every time Raimi threw horror fans a bone with an EVIL DEAD reference.  I was jumping up in my seat and smiling from ear to ear.  If I’m being totally honest, my initial reception of the film was completely clouded by my excitement for his little horror Easter eggs.  Horror fans all claim to crave originality, yet most independent horror films are either a) found footage or b) teenagers in a cabin in the woods.  Why?  It’s what we love and grew up on.  The problem with this is that everyone making horror movies today have all grown up on the same films.  Unlike 30 years ago where all of our horror film directors were raised on Universal Monsters, Hammer Horror, and the William Castle flicks, the modern horror director was fed a healthy diet of slashers, video nasties, and Stephen King adaptations.  To say that we aren’t inspired by the art that came before us is completely unrealistic, as our likes and dislikes are directly developed by what we are exposed to.
WE ALREADY REMADE THIS! WHY ARE WE REMAKING THIS?! Uh...two for TCM 3D, thanks.

People have been complaining about horror movies being constantly remade or carbon copied, and yet we’re still shelling out the dough for tickets to films we could solve just by watching the trailer.  Millennials are al suffering from student loan debt and a crippling economy, they don’t have the money to be dishing for movie tickets, so blaming the 17-25 year old audience is complete malarkey.  Horror fans of ALL ages are the ones forking over their hard earned dollars to see things like TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 87 1/2.  We keep complaining about these films being “all the same” and yet we keep coming back.  Why?  Nostalgia.
I won't lie, I've never laughed harder at this show than this moment...
We like knowing exactly what we’re getting into.  We like the idea of someone dabbling with deadites in a new way.  We like the idea of masked intruders breaking into a home even though we’ve seen it done dozens of time before.  There’s a reason shows like ROBOT CHICKEN are so successful, because they pull on the nostalgic emotions from our past and give us an excuse to indulge in them a little longer.  Horror fans are used to being seen as outsiders for what we love, so when someone is basically telling us to our face “we know you like this, and because it’s SO okay to like this, we’re going to give you more of it,” it makes us happy. I don’t care what sort of BS lifestyle you think you live, everyone wants to fit in and feel accepted.
This is the next stop in Paranormal Activity films, I swear.

So how does this come in to play with modern horror?  To put it simply, we get a little too hung up on nostalgia.  It’s a Catch 22. Does a horror screenwriter create an entirely unique story and risk poor box office results, or does he/she sacrifice creativity for a guaranteed successful profit?  Nostalgia sells, and it sells very well.  Unfortunately, this has caused a lot dilution of mainstream horror.  Don’t get me wrong, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for more than a decade, Halloween weekend has been taken over by franchise horror films like SAW installments or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.  There’s no room for originality when nostalgic and familiar films are taking over movie screens.
Yes, give me your ticket sales...

It’s such a strange conundrum because on one hand, we crave originality but in the same breath are more likely to purchase tickets to CURSE OF CHUCKY instead of risking it with something different…and then complain that there are too many remakes.  I’m not sure when/if this sort of situation will end, but I can safely say a love of nostalgia has a whole lot to do with our problems.

1 comment(s):

Rick Axtothefacenheimer said...

I agree with your point of view. Its a double sided coin really. Our love for the greatness of 70s and 80s horror is responsible for the current trend of remakes. The studios capitalize on the love of nostalgia by trying to rehash our most cherished films instead of creating new films for us to love. Its sad that we are responsible for this trend.

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