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Decade-defining horror movies

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  • Decade-defining horror movies

    Not necessarily looking for the best American horror movies from the first decade of the 21st century, just the most influential. The ones that, as you see them, were so uniquely resonant with audiences that they seem to testify to distinctly American fears or anxieties.

    Working on a critical essay that follows a couple of themes that run through the J-horror trend in American horror movies of the early part of the decade, to the semi-resurgence of Splatter with the Hostel and Saw series, the resurgence of demonic possession/exorcism stuff, found footage with Paranormal -- and I know that a lot of these things were heavily influenced (if not ripped off) from foreign films, but I'm trying to figure out why they were so poignant with American audiences.

    Thanks for your input!

  • #2
    1970's - Jaws, The Exorcist, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alien

    1980's - Poltergeist, The Friday The 13th films, A Nightmare on Elm Street films, Ghostbusters, Lost Boys, Aliens

    1990's - Scream, The Blair Witch Project, Silence of the Lambs, Bram Stoker's Dracula

    2000's+ - The Saw films, The Hostel films, The Paranormal Activity films, The Resident Evil films, 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later, The Underworld films, The Ring, The Mist & the multitude of remakes that the public was subjected too. The 2000's and on make me shudder (and not in a good way) now that I think about the diarrhea that has been shat onto film in the last 13 years.

    These are the films and series that I think defined each decade, these aren't necessarily my favorites or what I would consider the best but I think they are the films that changed pop culture and were the films most remembered by all (not just genre fans) within the realm of the American conscientiousness.
    Last edited by Mr. Bill; 05-19-2013, 06:32 PM.


    • #3
      I think the 200's should include final Destination. The series as become a shell of itself, but when it first came out it was pretty intense.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Robcbh View Post
        I think the 200's should include final Destination. The series as become a shell of itself, but when it first came out it was pretty intense.
        That's true


        • #5
          I would say The Ring, Hostel, Saw, Paranormal Activity. I'd exclude 28 days later (British, no?)

          Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 for kicking off a long run of horror re-makes. To be fair, this one wasn't bad but most of the ones that followed have been.

          I'd also add Zombieland and Warm Bodies for inflicting the rom-zom-com genre upon us. (Though I think I'd have to blame the British Shaun of the Dead for inspiring this not-scary genre.)

          Even worse - the Twilight series. Took standard horror creatures and turned them into warm and fuzzy teddybears for teenage girls to obsess over.

          For indie horror, I'd add May, The Pact, House of the Devil and Stake Land for showing us great horror films don't need a big budget. In fact I think more and more that having a big budget works against making good horror these days.

          Cabin in the Woods might fit in there somewhere but it's yet to be seen if it will prove influential.


          • #6
            Shouldn't you have the surveyed list the movies they believe were influenced by each the genre-defining movie? I don't see The Exorcist in many 70s and early 80s movies, but I do see Black Christmas in Halloween, Tourist Trap, F13, Twitch, etc.


            • #7
              The Dawn of the Dead remake is a good example of 2000's horror movie.

              3 Tiers of remake quality - There was mediocre remakes, like The Thing (2011), or The Crazies (2010). Sure, a few came, that were better than average, but the majority? Overwhelmingly subpar. For every remake like The Ring, there was something on the other end of the spectrum, like that absolutely horrible Pulse remake.

              Hostels a funny little film. Prob the most popular, well known exploitation/ splatter piece ever. If it was released in the 70's it would have just been another taboo shocker, like Mark of the Devil, but given the time it was released, and the name of the director, and his associations, It garnered a higher reputation, than it really deserved.

              So basically remakes, and hyper gore, or exploitation flicks.


              • #8
                Saw - which summarizes what is wrong with the trend of post-Scream super-mastermind killers plotting traps and overelaborate deaths now I sound like I'm quoting Austin Powers. See: The Collector.

                Cabin Fever - the wannabe-cult, fan-made for-fans horror flick. See: Hatchet.

                Wolf Creek - the chase and stalk flick. See: ... everything!

                The Ring - ghosts and twists.


                • #9
                  Off the top of my head I think the most influential American horror films of the 21st Century are probably:

                  TCM (2003) - Helped to reignite the current remake craze. Spawned the DOTD remake all the way to today's Maniac and there's no sign of slowing down.

                  The Blair Witch Project - Found footage is still going strong as this also reignited that style which is popular with the You Tube generation.

                  Hostel - Brought gore and boobs back en vogue after a lull through the '90s.

                  These movies heavily influenced many made prior but I don't think they particularly captured American anxieties. They simply were the ones that found the largest audience among both casual and hardcore horror fans. In fact, I think mainstream American horror movies have been sorely lacking any social commentary for the most part for quite a while. Blame the politically correct movement for that. This cultural phenomenon made art non-confrontational and movies were spawned without any particular statement or point of view. Wouldn't want to offend any group because ultimately the creators want the greatest audience possible.

                  American horror is so grossly tinged with capitalism that this is why all we seem to get are remakes, FF, and Hostel clones. Don't want to stray from the winning formula lest we alienate the crowd.

                  With that said, The Mist is probably the most confrontational mainstream horror film to come out for a while. It seems though it was lost on the American public and it stands mostly as a cult classic despite it's accolades. Best American horror movie in years, completely ignored by America. D'oh!


                  • #10
                    I wonder what will define the 10s. My gut says it'll be the American, perhaps something of the ghost or haunted house variety. Perhaps it'll be the decade of the Kaiju.