Wednesday, 1 June 2016

John Carpenter on Eighties Horror

Spoiler alert - he thought most of it wasn't very good.

You can see his interview at Terror Time. Here are some choice quotes.
“One springs from an organic idea and has a truly artist’s eye working.” He continued on, comparing Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw “And Friday the 13th, I feel, affects me as very cynical. It’s very cynical moviemaking. It just doesn’t rise above its cheapness. I think the reason that all these slasher movies came in the ’80s was a lot of folks said ‘look at that Halloween movie. It was made for peanuts, and look at the money it’s made! We can make money like that. That’s what the teenagers want to see.’ So they just started making them, cranking them out…most of them were awful.”
Of course 'most of them were awful' is a verdict that can readily be offered on almost any decades genre offerings. But I do think he has a point about the Eighties. Very few of the horror movies of that period have worn well. Yet much of the science fiction has endured and some - Blade Runner, The Terminator, Aliens, Close Encounters - are regarded as classics of their kind. They set templates and standards in a way that Seventies horror did.

Perhaps that's the real issue, that the ground-breaking work in horror film had already been done by Carpenter and others in the mid-to-late Seventies, leaving the way open for hacks to rip-off all the money-spinning tropes. Oh well. One of my favourite horror movies is an old-school ghost story that kicked off the Eighties. If only that standard had been maintained.

1 comment:

Oscar Solis said...

I'm hard pressed to remember any good horror films released during the 80s. There were The Changeling, An American Werewolf In London, The Howling, the beautiful Company Of Wolves, The Shining, the delirious Re-Animator and a few others. But, unfortunately, it was dominated by slasher films. It also seems to be the era where characters really started spending half the film's running time wandering around and encountering false scares before meeting a grisly end, setting up a trend that continues, unfortunately, to this day. Recently I was watching The Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Dracula as well as some Val Lewton movies and was amazed at the difference in films of that era and films from the 80's on. The former films were entirely plot driven, with a story that filled the running time from start to finish whereas most films now are merely setups for scares. They were also filled with a real sense of fantasy, even if they were horror films, something many, if not most films released today, lack.