Gores Truly is femme-driven but certainly not man-hating. Occasionally, we want to give our readers a chance to contribute to the horror-fest that we all adore – including those wielding the Y-Chromosome. The following article has been Murder-Her approved. Watch out! It’s an Invasion of the Y-Chromosome!
“The State of Horror”
Every time a remake or sequel is announced, horror fans are up in arms. They decry the state of horror and jump aboard the Hollywood hate machine. They complain about the lack of original horror films and put their hopes in independent filmmakers.
How is the state of horror? How are we doing compared to the 80s or 90s? Many horror classics were born in these decades but how many remakes and sequels were there in 1984 or 1999?
I set out to find some answers. Through the help of Wikipedia, Box Office Mojo, The Numbers, IMDB, and my fractured memory, I compiled a list of all major releases from 1980 to 2009. I tracked sequels, remakes, and original films then tallied the results for each year. By “original” I am referring to any movie that is not a remake or sequel. This includes films adapted from books, video games, and TV shows.
My main criteria is that a film must be shown in a wide release (600 theatres) to be added to the list. Independent films are too difficult to track and besides not many indies are remakes or sequels. It’s Hollywood I’m interested in. It doesn’t matter how bad a film is (Stay Alive or House of the Dead), if it had a wide release and primarily horror, it gets counted. To determine which decade had the best horror films would be an endless debate. A legion of fans armed with slide rulers and back issues of Fangoria couldn’t settle that argument.
Thrillers did not make the list. I’m not interested in a film like The Roommate that doesn’t get scary until the last five minutes. Some comedies made the list such as Shaun of the Dead, House 2, & Gremlins. Some action made the list: Underworld, Predator, & Silent Rage. And some adventure made the list: King Kong, Jurassic Park, & Cloverfield.
The list of compiled films is a work in progress. The further back you travel to 1980, the greater the margin for error. There are some films for which I couldn’t find box office totals and not all Wikipedia lists were conclusive. Obviously, I can’t list every film I tracked due to space constraints, but I can give you a sample from each decade. (If you’d like the full list send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(R) = Remake, (S) = Sequel.
2007: Primeval, The Hitcher (R), The Messengers, The Abandoned, Dead Silence, The Hills Have Eyes 2 (S), The Reaping, Planet Terror, Death Proof, Vacancy, 28 Weeks Later (S), Bug, Hostel 2 (S), 1408, Captivity, Skinwalkers, The Invasion (R), Halloween (R), Resident Evil: Extinction (S), 30 Days of Night, Saw 4 (S), P2, The Mist, I am Legend (R), Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (S), The Orphanage
1999: Virus, Carrie 2 (S), Ravenous, Idle Hands, Lake Placid, The Haunting (R), The Deep Blue Sea, Blair Witch, Stigmata, Stir of Echoes, House on Haunted Hill (R), Sleepy Hollow
1980: The Changeling, Saturn 3, Terror Train, Maniac, The Fog, Friday 13th, The Shining, Prom Night, Silent Scream, Motel Hell, The Awakening, Altered States
Here are the results.
[T = Total number of films S = Sequel R = Remake O = Original]
The numbers confirm my, and many others, suspicions. The percentage of original films have declined whilst sequels and remakes have increased.
The problem with percentages, though, is they don’t give you the big picture. Let’s look at original films. 1980 has a score of 100%. 12 out of 12. Not bad. Now examine 2007.
It has 16 out of 26 but only garnered 62%. Just because a year has a high percentage doesn’t mean it’s the champion. I’d rather have 16 original films at 62% than 12 at 100%. The more options the better. When I look at the latter half of the Naughts, I see a lot of promise. 2008 bombed, but every other year offers original films in the double digits. Are there are more remakes and sequels in the mix? Of course; it’s inevitable. But when you have many original films to choose from, it makes the anguish of the next remake or sequel more bearable. I went out on a limb and tabulated 2010 to see if it follows in the footsteps of 2009. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It bombs with 14 overall films and only 5 originals. Great if you’re a fan of remakes and sequels – and I do admit to watching a few.
So what does this mean for the state of horror? It means nothing is certain. Every decade has both good and bad years. 1985 escaped with only 5 originals. 1991 and 2008 are nearly non-existent each with 2 originals.
Overall, the number of horror films is increasing regardless of the percentages. Horror has always been the bastard child of Hollywood and it’s nice to have their attention for the moment. It’s misdirected attention in the form of remakes and sequels, but if it paves the way for a handful of original films, I’m all for it.
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