Ryan Anderson writes about the Golden Age of Horror from Hollywood and how thsoe movies overshadow even the best of what Hollywood offers today...


“Now That's Scary,” by Ryan Anderson

May 3rd, 2005

O'Ryan FactorDo you remember Boris Karloff lumbering around with outstretched arms in “Frankenstein”? Do you remember Lugosi hissing at bits of sunlight coming through the window in “Dracula”? If not, you’re missing out. Both of those films are part of the golden age of horror.  You’d expect films like these to be treasured forever…but they’re not. Hollywood seems to be turning from them and desecrating truly great films. For film buffs, these aren’t just movies. These are pieces of American history.

Last year Universal Studios released a film titled “Van Helsing”. Now if you have read Stoker’s novel Dracula you’ll remember that Van Helsing is an elderly Dutch man who fights vampires with the vast knowledge he has about their weaknesses. Apparently Universal decided that he should be in his 30’s and pack lots of heat (as opposed to knives made of wood or silver). On top of that they wanted to throw in the characters of Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf man…for no apparent reason. I know people who refer to this film as a “rape of classic literature”. I’m not sure about that. However, I was surprised that Universal would actually consider bringing back the films that made it famous in order to film a sleazy, mind-numbing, action film.

Vincent Price is referred to as “the master of horror” by many. By 1953 he had already starred in many films. That’s when he made “House of Wax”. He played a professor who covers real bodies in wax to replace the wax figures that were destroyed when his museum burnt down. It was the first 3-D film with a stereophonic soundtrack. It also established Price as a horror icon. So now, in 2005, I turn on the TV to see Paris Hilton (famous for…um…being rich) running in the woods in red lingerie being chased by a man with a knife. A title appears on the screen: “House of Wax”. The new film is being released by Dark Castle pictures, the same people who remade other horror films like “House on Haunted Hill”. 


Let’s not forget “The Amityville Horror” which has been doing well at the box office these past weeks. So why are all of these horror remakes doing well? Teenagers have a lot to do with it. In many cases, they have no idea what they’re watching is a remake at all.  Even when they do know, they don’t care. Let’s face it, why would kids today want to see a film without gratuitous violence or nudity? It’s hard to find one (though they’re out there).  The genre of horror used to be about suspense. That’s changed. Now it’s all about shock. Filming someone sawing off their own feet isn’t horror, that’s a snuff film. Today’s movies have unimaginable violence. It’s insane.

The point here is back in the 30’s when kids went to see a Boris Karloff picture, they were having fun. Everything was innocent. Now, with the changing culture, nothing is.  So films reflect that attitude of anything goes.  When these classic films are remade with no regard to the old one, they are disregarding an important part of our culture; the culture that once was. It’s almost a slap in the face to Price (who passed in ’93).  However, these films make money and producers aren’t going to stop making them any time soon (teens won’t stop going any time soon either).

So the film industry is changing. The definition of horror is changing. It’s not fun anymore. Classic films are being distorted; all because of our permissive culture. With no one like Price or Karloff to save horror, what will become of it? More importantly, with no one to save our culture, what will become of it?



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More articles from Ren can be found here: The Rant Archive