Today’s Major Spoilers Question of the Day is brought to you once more by Fangoria Presents – a new film series selected by Fangoria for Horror Fans!  Use the comment section below to share your thoughts, with the best comment winning a DVD of one of the films in the series as seen on their website!  (Sorry, this contest is open to U.S. residents only!)

As an aficionado of the scary-scary, I often find myself feeling like I need to defend my enjoyment of certain movies, such as the genuinely disturbing (albeit mostly on the first viewing) ‘Blair Witch Project,’ and even the first ‘Saw.’  The arguments I encounter usually involve manufactured jump-scares, leaning too hard on the CGI madness, an overuse of gory elements and the general deconstruction of the tropes of the genre, as seen in ‘Scream.’  For my money, though I’m leery of the splatterpunk stylings of Rob Zombie and company, the modern horror film has to work harder to overcome not only genre-savvy film-goers, but the ever-dwindling number of things that are truly unknown in the 21st century.  While I won’t say that, f’rinstance, the remake of ‘Dawn of The Dead’ is as good as the pants-wetting original, it has moments of brilliance, Ving Rhames, and a credits gag that is a terrifying horror movie into itself, and perhaps had a more difficult job than its forerunners in generating real scares…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) would like to go on record as stating that poor Katie Featherston’s problems were exacerbated by her jerkass boyfriend, asking: Are modern horror films as good as the classics?  Why/Why Not?

Remember:  Once again, the best comment will win, thanks to Fangoria Presents!

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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14 Comments

  1. Spiderlover
    May 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm — Reply

    I think that modern horror doesn’t live up to its name. I think the last point I’ve been scared was silent hill at certain points. You know tearing a girls skin off like wrapping paper will do this to you. Modern horror is usually done a few ways.

    Gore is one of these which is affectionately known as body horror. Not scary just gross.
    Second found footage which to me is done wrong accept in, at least what I saw, paranormal activity. Third is psychological thriller, which if your going to go that way take the classic silence of the lambs.

    Which leads me to the last point as the past feels stronger in terms of good horror. Maybe techniques were simpler. Maybe there is just more of it.

  2. Oldcomicfan
    May 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    I think modern horror suffers from the same problem as the Western genre at the end of the sixties. There’s just so much of it around that it’s old and tired, and most of it isn’t very well done. Sure, the special effects are wonderful, but it’s like gold-plating a dog turd. Gore is not scary, it’s just gore. Splatterpunk isn’t scary either. The only two movies that ever really scared me were Psycho and the original Alien movie. Alfred Hitchcock was able to pull off better horror without a single monster, using only camera angles and suspenseful music. He was a master! Modern horror movies all seem to be nothing more than special effects wrapped around a generic plot (where the monsters are all interchangeable), and tied up with a formula. I think the horror genre should be retired, much like the western, and only pulled out when a director or producer actually has a very good story to tell.

  3. Gary
    May 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm — Reply

    I second Oldcomicfan. Modern horror seems to be either jump-scares, gore, and torture/brutality. Things that make you jump can get your heart rate up, gore is gross, and torture/brutality can be uncomfortable to watch, but none of them to me are really frightening.

    On the other hand, one of my favorites is Hitchcock’s Birds. It takes something ordinary — a flock of birds — and makes it terrifying. The lack of resolution or reason behind it all really seals it for me; you never know why the birds attacked and consequently, you don’t know if they’ll do it again. It’s been 10 years since I’ve seen it and I still think about it when I see a large flock.

    Another of my faves is Kubrick’s The Shining. It has its moments of jump-scares and gore, but the frightening part to me is the atmosphere. Here’s this quiet and beautiful slowly but surely imposes its will on this hapless and likeable family. Slowly but surely Jack descends into madness.

  4. May 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm — Reply

    I’m going to say generally not. Older movies were fixated on the ideas themselves that were scary, while modern horror movies are more focused on using special effects and gore to spark fear. It’s a bit of a generalization, but I’d still take old-school “The Haunting” and “Nosferatu” to their modern counterparts any day.

  5. May 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    There are two big problems with the horror elements in modern horror: 1) A distinct lack of originality and 2) People nowadays have been desensitized to more obscene content (thanks–in large part–to the introduction of the Internet,)

    It is too hard to scare people who have seen-it-all-before and can say “I’ve seen much worse.”

  6. Joseph Iannello
    May 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm — Reply

    Chronicle would be my choice, and as for imposible camra angles there were none, The kid that was running the camara most of the time was holding the cam with his mind powers. also in the end firght there was footage taken from other cams, including traffic cams, ATM Cams and cell phones. all peaced together to fill in the points that was not filmed by the main cam.

  7. comicfan1974
    May 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm — Reply

    People who argue that older horror films were somehow better than contemporary productions seem to forget that there were plenty of awful, manipulative, shocking films (relative to an earlier cultural context of course) that were released, filled with the same kind of manipulative techniques (again, relative to the time) that people decry today. And no gore in classic films? Ever see the 1940s Val Lewton production The Leopard Man where we watch blood ooze from beneath a door from what we know are the mangled remains of a young women half eaten by a panther? My point is that it’s all relative…why else would there have been crusades against horror films in the “good old days?”

    And since people have been mentioning Hitchcock here, has there ever been a more disturbingly perverse scene then the moment in Frenzy when the serial killer rapes and strangles a woman at the same time? What is the standard we are talking about? Ever see those old 1930s pulp magazine covers? Take a look and talk to me about gory entertainment.

    I am just suspicious of this kind of cultural relativism. To answer the question, yes, I think there are good horror films made today, just as there were good ones made before. And there are/were bad ones too…but we should at least be aware of how our own individuals taste is factoring into those assessments.

  8. aerohalen1
    May 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    modern horror movies are just gore fests and almost laughable.

    • May 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm — Reply

      That’s quite a generalization you’ve got there…

      • aerohalen1
        May 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm — Reply

        maybe so,but alot of them seem like the director says “lets see how much of a mess we can make?”

  9. May 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm — Reply

    There’s good and bad in both. The cream rises to the top and most of the old awful movies get forgotten. We’re in the mix right now, living through the crap-tastic splatter films and the hidden gems, so it’s impossible to look at the situation with rose-colored glasses. Cabin in the Woods was, for my money, the best horror movie I’d seen in years. There’s some good indie stuff out there too, you just have to be willing to look.

  10. May 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    I can’t really compare most modern horror to classic horror because they are almost two entirely different genres. Modern horror is mostly psychological thrillers, messing with your head instead of having a “monster” or the other elements that defined the classic horror movies.

    I’m not really a fan of most modern horror, with the few exceptions that are few and far between (unless I’m looking at direct-to-DVD, then we’ve got a bigger selection). I love the old horror stuff because there was usually some definite monster or something solid to say “This is a line. On one side we have the good guys, on the other the bad guys”.

    I’m not saying newer stuff is bad, it just isn’t to my tastes. Given a choice, I’ll almost always pick an older horror movie (or at least something made in the same sort of style) over something new.

  11. Oldcomicfan
    May 9, 2013 at 11:06 pm — Reply

    You can’t speak of an entire genre without generalizing to some degree. But let’s face it, you can take Jason and Freddy (or just about any villain out of any modern horror series) out of their movies and plug them in to the other series, and you’d still have the same movie. The old horror movies, you couldn’t replace the wolfman with the creature from the black lagoon or Dracula. Those were unique stories and not interchangeable, formula pictures. I speak of the original movies, of course, not of the endless knock-offs that followed. Sure, there was a lot of awful horror movies in the early years, and let’s not get into the post-atomic giant critter genre… egad!

    Like I said in my earlier post, the horror genre is flooded, with movies that are cranked out merely to have another summer horror film so girls can glom onto their dates in pretend fright, and not because they have stories to tell. The whole genre lacks originality. What has any of the Saw movies done that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies didn’t do first? And those were horrible, too. LIke the western genre, the horror genre needs to be put to rest for ten or twenty years. When the best they can come up with is Sparkling Vampires romancing Mary Sues, it’s time to throw the key into the water bucket and ride on. The last good horror series I saw was the short-lived Warewolf series starring Chuck Connors from the early eighties.

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