From Horror Beginnings by Jack Kain


My entrance into the world of Horror films officially began with a child and a dream. The dream was about a man with a burnt face and knives for fingers who stalked his victims in their sleep. The child was named Tina and it was her death scene that ushered me into a world filled with nightmare killers; machete wielding dead campers, a family of cannibals and a homicidal man-child in a white mask.

In all honesty, I do believe that I actually wore out a tape from Blockbuster because of how many times I rewound and watched that scene. Not that I was fascinated with her death per se, but more that in my young mind I realized that this scene was something iconic; something special.  I realized that there was a horrible magic involved in the production of a great horror classic and even though I did sleep with a night light on for the next week, I understood that this was the desired effect of the film makers.

So why then, as I left the advanced showing of the Evil Dead remake, did I not feel that same magic?

Nothing against the Producers, Director and actors, but I left the theatre more nostalgic than terrified. Yes, nostalgic. Yearning for a much simpler time in horror cinema. A time when the film was grainy, the acting enjoyably bad and more emphasis was put on decently written plots and stronger characters than over the top gore and CGI to scare their audience.

Granted, horror movies have always had their fair share of blood and guts but when the amount of blood becomes ridiculously unrealistic, it is harder for the audience to suspend their disbelief. The scary part of films is the “this scenario is at least somewhat plausible” angle. That is what makes things really frightening, the possibility that at some point in time you could find yourself in this situation. Who amongst us hasn’t had the recurring thought after a night of our favorite scary movie of: “Can I really die in my dreams”, “Maybe my neighbor really is a vampire” or even “Should I really sleep with the female counsellor across the lake…OK, I will but I’m locking the door”.

The mainstream horror films that I have seen recently ( and believe me I am not knocking on new horror, I have seen too many well done indies ) have never made me think any of those thoughts or even the classic feelings of : “This could happen to me” or “ I really don’t want to walk down that dark alley alone”. They just entertain me and send me home to an empty house and a good night’s sleep.

Maybe I am getting old. Maybe I just do not get the edginess and direction of the new school of horror film makers  Perhaps it just feels like I have seen it all before. Where are the George A Romeros, who create timeless classics? Where are the Wes Cravens and John Carpenters that changed the face of horror forever? Will we ever see the rise of another horror villain into icon status? When will Sam Raimi come back to us, I mean REALLY come back to us? All questions that I would love answers to. For now I would just be content to have another sleepless night filled with coffee and night lights.

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