Horror icons are sparse in the 21st century for a very simple reason. Horror used to be adults scaring children. Now it’s all about creepy children scaring adults, and adults don’t scare the way kids do. Hence, a decent slasher flick gets forgotten after four or five years, regardless of how many sequels it has (witness the interminable Saw franchise of torture-porn).
Two of the most enduring figures in terror are Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, of the Nightmare on Elm St. and Friday the 13th franchises. Both are bogeymen; mythical killers of young folks, in familiar settings. Therein lies the key to their longevity and appeal. Continue reading →
I used to call myself a horror-movie buff in the 1990s, so I’ve heard all the grievances about “scream queens” and “final girls”. And, you know, those complaints worked; now every female protagonist in movies is an unstoppable “badass”. I saw the recent space drama Gravity, and I was mystified why so many people disliked it. Then I looked into the details; modern audiences rejected a Sandra Bullock who freaks out and cries when things go sour. Never mind that it’s part of a character arc; females must always be steely and in control.
Well, like so many aspects of modern film, that’s boring. Another victim of political correctness in movies is the Girl Who Can Scream. The scolds among us will suggest that men get a perverse satisfaction out of seeing women in jeopardy, but that’s only the perverts. For the rest of us, it’s a human fire alarm, when it’s done right. It signals that things are really, really bad. They even used to put it in the trailers.