HOLLYWOOD—Well it is official America, the month of October has arrived and we are just a mere 3 weeks away from Halloween. For many kids, Halloween is their favorite holiday because they get the opportunity to get as much candy as they like people. However, for the adults Halloween is not just about dressing up in costumes and ensuring your take your kids, nieces or nephews trick-or-treating, it’s about all things spooky and scary.

I love the month of October because I am a horror enthusiastic; I love a good scary movie, but here is the problem with horror nowadays: it feels like it is in a rut once again. This was a similar rut the genre experienced back in the 80s, when you had so many horror films released that were horrible it killed the genre. It is indeed difficult to place into words exactly what makes a good horror movie because I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for.

For me, horror is all about suspense, unnerving the viewer, not violence or gore. I have NEVER been a fan of violence or excessive gore in horror because to me it is a turnoff and just over-the-top at times. That is what 80s horror did to the genre. It made people think if you dispatch of teens is vicious ways this is what horror is. Sorry to disappoint you Hollywood, but it is not. Think about the classics, the movies that people talk about that scared them senseless as children and you will immediately have maybe 5 to 10 films that are constantly in those lists.

I’ll give you a few examples, “Psycho” (1960), Alfred Hitchcock’s black and white classic that killed off the main character mid-way thru the movie shocking the audience before delivering a twisted end regarding Norman Bates who embodied his mother literally and figuratively. Some argued that it ushered the slasher craze in horror, but do your homework people and you will learn there was a flick before that one that actually ushered the craze, it came out in the 50s and it’s called “Peeping Tom.” The title might sound disturbing and it is, but it’s the movie that created the Point of View camera shot that became notable in the 1974 classic “Black Christmas” and was later parlayed into exceptional horror standards for the 1978 classic, “John Carpenter’s Halloween.”

There is no secret, anyone who knows me knows that I love the movie “Halloween” because it was the horror flick as a kid that I was deprived from seeing and when I finally saw the flick I couldn’t believe I missed this greatness. It was NOT about death, violence, blood and gore. It was simplicity at its best, intertwined with the scariest horror music EVER and a villain with a mast that scares you to death in Michael Myers. The suspense, the dialogue, the narrative and the surprises here is just genius. Subsequent sequels haven’t come close to capturing that magic, but they tried.

I’ve found some of my favorite horror comes from the 70s and very early 80s. I mean “Alien,” “The Exorcist,” “Poltergeist,” “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Hellraiser,” “The Omen,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” are all unique films that have no similarities; they stand out on their own and that is what horror should be. Not a mimic of what a previous flick did. That is what happened with “Friday the 13th” which ushered in the slasher craze because everyone wanted to imitate the success of that movie with a psychopath who would wield some distinct weapon to dispatch of teens in gruesome ways and the formula was the same: people die one by one until the final girl or sole survivor realizes something is wrong and has to go toe-to-toe with the villain.

Seems tired and old right? Guess what it is. That’s why people gave up on horror. You then had Kevin Williamson craft the genius 1996 classic “Scream” that balances wit, horror and terror that just works. None of the sequels have come close to capturing that terror that the first flick balance with horror, comedy and fear. It is hard to top a classic with a sequel because you attempt to outdo what you previously did and the focus is taken away from what the focal point should be: the story. I really cannot tell you great horror of the modern era. I mean I love “The Ring” because it was so unusual. The 2003 version of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was a fun ride because I saw it before seeing the 1974 original, “The Conjuring” was a haunted house movie that proved scary and unrelenting, but you don’t have horror like back in the day it seems people have forgotten to tell a story and for many fans of the genre you go back to those classics that you can watch over and over again and still be scared in your skin.

Nowadays it’s all about remakes, sequels and requels, as “Scream,” the 2022 version coined. However, that movie was NOT the first to bring that idea to the table with the notion of legacy characters. You want to know a movie that did that first, look at the 1987 sequel, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.” That is an actual sequel that I would almost argue is better than the original. It is indeed a classic and a damn fantastic movie that brings back Nancy Thompson with a bunch of new teens looking to battle villain Freddy Krueger. It is a movie where the characters are smart and well aware they are uniting for a common goal to destroy evil. They’re not idiots unaware of the death and terror surrounding them.

So where does the genre go from here? That is a question I unfortunately cannot answer, because quite honestly I don’t know. I’m over the remakes, I’m over the boring sequels that are churned out simply to earn a buck, I’m sick of seeing movies with the same NAME as the original. Like, come on people, the 2022 version of “Scream” should have been called “Scream 5.” The 1978 classic “Halloween” which has technically had 2 remakes at this point the 2007 version, and then the 2018 version which is sort of a rebirth/sequel should have been called something else. It is so confusing and stupid to see this become a trend.

Horror needs to go back to the basics: focus on an original story, a villain that is a suitable for the protagonists, characters that are developed and suspense that is edge of your seat fun. That is the thing that everyone forgets suspense is horror, not violence people. Change the rules, but not so much to the point that it feels like you’re spilling into other genres. If you can bend it slightly and seamlessly mix multiple genres go for it, but not people can do that America and that is why the genre as we know it, isn’t dead, but it’s not delivering flicks that are wowing audiences and leaving them speechless. Tell me what was the last horror flick in the past decade that you watched that left you scared to go to sleep? I’m waiting.