Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Horror Lives! And Chicks Love It!

Ten years ago, Variety, the show business bible, declared the horror film dead. At the time, I disputed that claim with a piece I wrote in Cinefantastique showing evidence to the contrary. Now, as evidenced by a slew of recent horror film hits, articles are popping up all over the place announcing the "return of the horror film." The twist this time, according to one such recent article in The New York Times, is that more women are going to see horror films than ever before. Ok. Sure. Why not? But these sort of "trend" articles make me leery these days. Now, cerainly, some film trends are more newsworthy than others, but many simply feel like an editor of a publication needing to fill space. I recall an article in The New York Times in the mid 90s which talked about "the new trend of actors becoming directors." But this article came out after actors such as Rob Reiner, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, and others, had already been directing for about a decade or better. Could we really credit The Times with breaking the news of this trend? Likewise, in the early 1980s, the TV sitcom had been declared all but dead as a form of entertainment when The Cosby Show came along. Within two years, papers everywhere where writing about how the sitcom was the most popular form of entertainment on TV. (To a lesser extent, musicals, westerns, and science fiction genres have all experienced similar renewals from time to time.) So, what are we to make of this recent desire of entertainment reporters to write about the return of horror films? Well, nothing frankly. If attendance slips in a few years, I'm sure we will read articles announcing the "death of the horror film" once more. And that won't matter either. Truth be told, the horror film NEVER left. It may have taken on different forms from decade to decade, depending on the zeitgeist, but it never left. If any entertainment reporter had enough interest to actually gain some historical perspective before simply writing a piece, they might discover the same thing. Then of course they would have no story.

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