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What is Horror?

Lon Chaney as seen in The Phantom of the Opera...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t want to hear it anymore.

“Oh my god, I was watching the new ‘Halloween’ last weekend and it is so much better than the original.”

Or “Dude, me and my girlfriend were watching ‘Hannibal Rising’ and it made ‘Silence of the Lambs’ look like ‘Lilo and Stitch!’”

Make it stop. Please. I am writing this column because I truly care about the movies my readers watch.

For too long, teenagers have misunderstood horror as a genre. No longer should people simply scroll down past “Psycho” and “Rosemary’s Baby” on their on-demand channels. No longer should people consider “Prom Night” and “Saw LXXVII” acceptable horror films.

First, let us constitute what it means be a good horror film.

Let’s face it: people have laughed far too many times at Sam Raimi’s awesome “Drag Me to Hell,” saying it is “So bad it’s a joke.” I tell you, one of the beauties of the horror genre is that it’s supposed to make you laugh. Do you really think Sam Raimi, who also directed the “Spider-Man” series, doesn’t know how to be serious?

Quite possibly, the greatest quality of a good horror film is its ability to make you scared for days and nights to come.

I find it hard to imagine that a film like “Sorority Row” is going to leave you haunted for days. What will scar you, however, is good horror. The kind that can run chills down your spine and causes sudden bursts of fright.

I’m not just telling you to go out and rent old horror movies and ignore the modern stuff. In fact, this year has been a somewhat successful run of good horror, such as “Let Me In” and “Paranormal Activity 2.” I congratulate all the people who chose to see “Paranormal” instead of “Saw 3D.”

What does the success of the “Paranormal Activity” series mean to horror filmgoers?

It means that people are going to see films that are just gore and blood. Word of mouth and a spooky advertising campaign are sometimes all a film needs to get popular.

When I walked into a 10:00 showing of “Paranormal Activity 2,” a smile grew across my face.

I was delighted to see a packed theatre full of teenagers. A sense of optimism for the future of horror cinema ran through my veins as I sat down in the front row, the only available space left.

Listen, I understand the guilty pleasure aspect of a horror movie. Sometimes, it’s understandable to sit back and enjoy “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” But for the most part, I am encouraging you guys to jump on before you select your film of choice.

See which ones are actually worth your time.

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    CarolineNov 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Oh Sammy.