Horror Movies | The Genre That Never Dies
Updated: Jun 16
My love of horror movies started at a very young age. I blame my mother for that. She has always been a fan of them and we used to have more horror movie rentals back in the day than any other genre of movie. I grew up in the era of the video rental and have vague memories of the days before the BBFC certificates and have seen some of the so called "video nasties" before, during and after they became "video nasties". I would definitely say that I have been a fan of horror movies since I first started watching movies at all.
I have always said it would have been nice to have been born 10 or more years earlier. It would have been nice to see some Hammer Horror double bills at the cinema as well as some of the great horrors and sci-fi horrors from some of the directors I will mention here.
Hammer Horror movies, as cheesy as they are these days, still hold a lot of entertainment for me. I could watch the Hammer Dracula movies with Christopher Lee repeatedly, as well as a lot of the others. I will never tire of re-watching them and they will always be classics to me. I imagine they must have had a level of scare in their day, but they are so enjoyable to watch.
One of my favourite movies of all time and maybe one of my earliest memories of a 'horror' is The Fearless Vampire Killers, which was directed by Roman Polanski, who also stars in it. It was released in 1967 and is more a horror comedy, which parodies the Hammer movies. It is one I try to re-watch regularly, and such a fun movie to watch over the festive period. TV here in the UK used to show it often at that time over the years. I think I still even have the VHS somewhere, if it has not been thrown out by accident. Set deep in the Carpathian mountains it follows Professor Abronsius and his loyal assistant Alfred as they seek out to find and then destroy Count Von Krolock, who they believe to be a vampire.
Another director who deserves a mention is John Carpenter, who has made so many classic horror movies. Halloween is such a great horror experience. I had the chance to see it on the big screen last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have lost count how many times I have watched it, every new release, even with the commentaries. Another one of my all time favourite movies! The second movie as well is another one I enjoy, but then I skip to Halloween H20 and make it like a little mini trilogy, trying to forget all the other entries in the franchise, although the recent remake/reboot/sequel was really enjoyable and they have another one in the works which I am looking forward to. Other Carpenter movies include The Fog, which is up there in my top movies of all time. It is more a supernatural ghost story and a classic 80's horror, and it is another film I got the chance to see at the cinema on the big screen last year. Such a great movie and glad I had that opportunity. The last Carpenter movie before I move on is of course The Thing. It is set in what is probably my favourite movie and TV location, the Antarctic, and more sci-fi elements appear here to add to the horror. A classic 80's horror in every sense and the prequel is worth a watch to fill in some of that back story.
Dario Argento is another one of my favourite directors, with Tenebrae being one of my favourite movies of his. It is my favourite Giallo and in my opinion the best slasher movie ever made. The 80's synth soundtrack by Goblin is also worth checking the film out for. There are so many great Argento movies I think I would need a whole blog post just for them, and if you are looking to get into watching some great horrors, then anything by Dario Argento would be a good start. Another Italian director I will mention is Lucio Fulci and I managed to catch a Fulci double bill many years ago at the GFT in Glasgow that included City of the Living Dead and a Q&A aftewards with stars Catriona MacColl and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. David Hess stopped by for that one as he was in the UK doing some promotion himself and that is a good cue to mention The House on the Edge of the Park, directed by Ruggero Deodato in 1980 and another film which was banned in the UK at the time of the "video nasties", but a movie my mother had hired out from our local video store and we actually got to keep as the shop closed down while we had it on rent.
The 70's and 80's certainly were a great couple of decades to be growing up in if you liked or loved horror movies, with so many of what have now become classics being released then. Movies like Alien, Jaws, Halloween, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Carrie and Phantasm which were released in the 70's and The Evil Dead, The Thing, The Shining, The Fly, Hellraiser, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scanners released in the 80's. Some of these have become franchises, which are still going strong today. Some have been subjected to a remake or a reboot, and even a very late sequel with some being good and some being not so good. Nevertheless, these are the movies I grew up with and it is good to see them still alive and kicking decades later.
I should really take a little side step into sci-fi here, as sci-fi and horror often go hand in hand with movies, certainly with The Thing, which I have mentioned already and also with movies like Alien, which is maybe the most iconic sci-fi survival horror of them all. Directed by Ridley Scott in 1979, it was start of such a great movie franchise that is still going strong even today and has spawned spin offs and video games over the years. It really is the one film that should be top of any sci-fi horror movie fans list. The sequel Aliens from James Cameron in 1986 is more action horror and as good a movie and I think I enjoy it just that little bit more as it expands on the Alien Universe and has such great characters in it. I have also had the honour of meeting both Lance Henriksen who plays Bishop and Michael Biehn who plays Hicks (they were both in Terminator as well, another great sci-fi movie). But yes, the Alien franchise as a whole is really worth watching if you like your sci-fi with a slice of horror.
This blog could be easily filled with me going on and on about all the great movies I have seen over the years, but I just wanted to touch on some of them, to give you an idea of the kind of movies I like and enjoy. There are many different types of horror movie, whether straight up creature feature or more jump scare psychological, some have other elements through them to cater for a bigger audience, so it is so easy these days to get into horror movies even if you do not want the full on horror experience. Over the years I have been to various Frightfest events here in Glasgow. They generally take over the GFT cinema on the final weekend of the Glasgow Film Festival and with 5 or 6 movies on the Friday and even more on the Saturday, all back to back, they cover all aspects of the horror genre and I have seen some great movies there over the years. The London event is even bigger with so much more on offer, and both have guests, Q&A's and giveaways. Hopefully I will get along to the London event one of these years.
These days with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime and now Shudder, there is so much on offer streaming wise for the horror fan. Shudder in particular being exclusively for the horror fan (think Netflix but with just horror movies and shows) means there is so much to dive in to if you love the genre or want to try it out. Some really good horrors I have enjoyed more recently include the Evil Dead remake, The Void and Terrifier, all of which are pretty full on with the gore, if that is your thing. There are also some non gore horror movies worth checking out if you would prefer to keep that to a minimum. The Babadook, It Follows and The Autopsy of Jane Doe are ones I would recommend.
So yeah, just a little insight into my love of horror movies and the genre as a whole, and how I got into them all those years ago. Thank you for reading and whether you already enjoy horrors or maybe just dip into them occasionally, there are certainly enough movies currently out or in production to keep us all happy and entertained.