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Old 6th May 2012, 02:06 AM
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Default Lack of Real Quality Horror Films?

My wife and I are both big fans of really high-quality horror films. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Exorcist, The Mist from a few years ago, the original Night of the Living Dead, Suspiria, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, Black Christmas, The Vanishing, Audition, The Grudge, The Wicker Man, Kill List, Psycho even ... [NB. we both have an ongoing dislike of, for my money, the most overrated film of all time: Don't Look Now, which is why it's not listed, and we find Cronenberg hit and miss, but assume we've seen them all -- I like Shivers and The Fly, don't like Videodrome]

Here's our problem though: we just have no time for or patience with schlock. None at all. For horror to be effective in my view, your basics of film fundamentals have to be in place: the acting, direction and so on. We both also have limited patience for over-the-top gore. We want to be scared, not see blood squirting everywhere.

So, while Night of the Living Dead is great, I've got no real time for the awful acting witnessed in Dawn of the Dead. While Texas Chainsaw is just FANTASTIC, both of Tobe Hooper's next horrors -- Eaten Alive and The Funhouse are really awful. We had to turn Eaten Alive off after 40 minutes, and while we endured the full running time of The Funhouse, it was a totally scare-free and tedious experience.

Bad or amateurish acting is proving to be a real barrier against us enjoying any number of horror films with big reptuations: Last House on the Left, for example (70s) is borderline unwatchable for us because the performances are so bad.

We both love a great horror film, but have found the genre so hit and miss. The search has been far and wide. I've been extremely disappointed with highly rated older films like Night of the Hunter or Carnival of Souls, which both seem extremely overrated if you ask me. The old 30s Universal pictures or the Hamer films of the 50s and 60s are a bit creeky to be really scary these days. We don't really get on with the "video nasties" of the 70s mostly because of the aforementioned poor acting and then as the 80s wear on you either get increasingly formulaic Hollywood slashers (Halloween, Friday 13th, etc. etc., although you do sometimes come across the occasional semi-obscure gem like The Stepfather) or increasingly OTT blood and gore zombie films that veer towards being more comical than scary (basically all the big name 80s zombie films from The Evil Dead onwards). Then the horror films of the last 15 years or so, the so-called "torture porn" stuff, again often suffers from ropey acting and a sort shininess I can't put my finger on. Found [rec], Paranormal Activity, and The Descent pretty effective, but, for example, hated Session 9, and HATED Cabin in the Woods a couple of weeks ago.

This is starting to become very very frustrating. The list of horror films we've watched and not enjoyed is pretty extensive now. The film we keep citing and coming back to is Texas Chainsaw. It's just got that perfect blend of superb direction, great performances and grittiness that you need for a properly disturbing and above all scary horror film. Is it really just a one off?

I'm looking for some genuinely good horror recommendations here. So many horror fans seem to delight in schlock, in B-movie "so-bad-it's-goodness", I'm not interested in that. I'm looking for something that can genuinely compare with Texas Chainsaw. We're starting to feel like we've exhausted the genre and there's just no good ones left. Any help here would be much appreciated. Please note though, I'm looking for proper horror here, not arthouse films that may have disturbing elements (e.g. Lynch, Begotten, Jan Svankmajer, Jodorowsky, Salo, or the likes of Cannibal Holocaust etc.), but films that could only really be classed as "horror".

Also, if you find yourself with a similar problem, please mention it.
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Old 6th May 2012, 03:40 AM
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I think you'll find most people on here are huge fans of schlock, as you describe it, as well as the classics you mention (The Shining, Suspiria, etc).I, myself, don't watch horror movies to be scared, I watch them for pure entertainment.I can be entertained by schlock like Zombie Holocaust as well as a classic like The Omen.I don't think I've ever been really scared by a horror movie, but ones that affected me on very first viewing include: Salem's Lot (1979), The Changeling (1980), The Evil Dead (1981), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), Halloween (1978), Black Christmas (1974), Jaws (1975) and The Exorcist (1973).I really don't think they have the same impact now as they did back when I watched them for the first time.If you want quality horror (and you don't mention that you've seen it), I'd recommend John Carpenter's The Thing (1982).
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Last edited by Vampix; 6th May 2012 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 6th May 2012, 07:21 AM
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Super Happy schlock

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Old 6th May 2012, 07:52 AM
Make Them Die Slowly's Avatar
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I think the problem is with yourselves not the genre. You need new ways of viewing the genre in all it's wonky glory.
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Old 6th May 2012, 10:17 AM
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The thing is, a real classic of any genre only comes along every 3 or 4 years.
Look at the timescale of the films you've mentioned.

The years 1967-1982 were a golden period for movies and a larger percentage of classic movies come from that time.

In the meantime, if you watched one film a week, you'd still have to watch 150 films before you watched one absolute classic.

I agree that The Mist will definitely be seen as a classic in the future, I think it will have the slow-burn effect of The Thing (1982).

There have been some great films outisde the horror genre in the last few years but in these times of recesssion horror itself has become very generic, even the gore films feel safe.

The only horror/fantasy films since the Japanese boom I can recommend you check out are:
Let The Right One In
Pan's Labyrinth
The Orphanage

These are real quality films.

Although I've yet to see I Saw The Devil, The Woman and The Skin I Live In, which have been highly-rated.

To be honest, I feel the best genre outings have migrated to television, with The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones being excellent series so far.
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Old 6th May 2012, 11:38 AM
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"Snow Town" ticks most of the things you are looking for in a film, though it's stretching it a bit to class it as horror.
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Old 6th May 2012, 02:30 PM
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As much as I love Texas Chainsaw, the acting is a bit sub-par in it if you ask me. It's very stilted, but that adds to the overall effect. It's certainly no better than what is in Last House on the Left, yet you dislike that.

I think, as has been said, you need to look at these films differently. I wonder if you truly do love horror movies to hate so many of them. You cite films that I consider to be genre milestones, yet you discard them as rubbish. Maybe try looking at a different genre to get your kicks, as horror clearly isn't for you. Now that's not a criticism and I'm not berating you, but it does seem that your love of horror is very, very narrow and as a consequence you'll never find much to enjoy.

Me? I love it all. From the truly awful to the truly great, there's very little I've actually intensely disliked and I usually can always find something in a horror film to enjoy.
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Old 6th May 2012, 03:38 PM
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I'd recommend you watch some quality schlock:

Zombie Holocaust
Burial Ground
Basket Case
Zombie Creeping Flesh
Night of the Demon
Humanoids from the Deep
Nightmare City
Island of Death
Street Trash

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Old 6th May 2012, 03:44 PM
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After reading your post, you sound like a film fan, but not really a horror fan.

Most horror films are made cheaply and unfortunately the actors, scripts and effects reflect that.
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Old 6th May 2012, 04:00 PM
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The problem is that the term 'quality' is subjective.

For instance, I adore Videodrome and consider it as a very high quality film, however there will be others that will view it as garbage.

Also, speaking as a horror fan, for me it also at times comes down to a case of 'I've seen it all before'. As the years tick by (and as I become increasingly more jaded) and the volume of horror films increase, it's very hard to be original anymore. Add to that digital technology that allows almost any man or woman with a camera phone or a digital camera to make a movie very cheaply, and not only do you lose originality, but often sacrifice quality for quantity, too.

That said, the previous couple of decades have still yielded some excellent horror films, even though for the most part, my horror-bound heart belongs to the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

If you're in search of some modern quality horror (besides Session 9 ), I'd highly recommend you check out the latter year threads from 'Your Favourite Horror Films: Year by Year' section.
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