And, I’m not a movie historian or expert; I’m just a cinephile, probably like you, who enjoys horror movies. I also like to reflect upon times and situations in our history and ask: why? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic, as well.
1990’s Horror: Autopsy Results
So, we’ve established the who, what, where, when, and how, which leaves us with the most elusive question: why? Why, in my assertion, the dearth of worthwhile horror movies in the ‘90s?
Dear readers, I’ll spoil it and reveal the ending: I don’t have an answer, at least not an objective, definitive one. I can only speculate subjectively. Maybe as the 1980’s horrors, particularly the slashers, became more and more ridiculous and unforgiving about their profits, movie-goers cooled on horrors for a while. Maybe the real-world scared us enough and we didn’t want our films to.
My speculation, and sorry to say it ain’t that sexy: Maybe it’s just the cyclical nature of life. The yin and yang, ebb and flow of everything. The 2000s did produce some awesome horrors, no?
Sadly, this week as I write this, Wes Craven has passed away. As earlier stated in previous parts of this article and as Mr. Craven has lamented in the past, he was somewhat of a reluctant “icon” of horror movies and maybe would have wanted to spread out more, directorially. Unfortunate, but not the end of the world, of course. No matter what he thought, it’s what he did: spanned several decades with movies that we’ll be talking about for several more decades, and most importantly: he scared the shit out of us.
One penultimate thought: I’d like to mention some movies I neglected to in the first two parts. Honorable mentions: THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, John Carpenter’s 1995 Lovecraftian horror, a box-office bomb at the time, but has become a bit of a cult classic; EVENT HORIZON, a 1997 sci-fi/horror which also didn’t break the bank upon theatrical release, but has become more appreciated two decades later; and perhaps my biggest omission: INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, Neil Jordan’s 1994 commercial and critically successful adaptation of Anne Rice’s 1976 novel. And further apologizes for other movies that I have failed to mention at all. Please let me hear your thoughts.
Finally, I’d like to thank Crash Palace’s proprietor and someone who knows a helluva lot more about horror movies than me: Billy Crash. It was July 2014 when I asked Bill if I could research and post an article on my thoughts on 1990’s horror movies. What was originally planned to be a two-thousand word essay completed in a month turned into three parts published over the past year and a half.
During this odyssey, not only did I learn more about movies of this decade, I learned a lot about myself and some reasons why I haven’t written many horror screenplays and have produced no horror movies to date. See, I grew up on horror movies, particularly ‘70s and ‘80s horror. I remember reading FANGORIA magazine, sneaking into the movies with my friends to see NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4, living for Halloween time to arrive, and eventually writing terrifically bad horror stories as an adolescent.
As adulthood hit, so did the 1990s, and for me, out went horror and in came the crime-dramas. This, along with the other career path I chose, is probably why I’ve become a crime-thriller writer/filmmaker and not a horror one. Too bad, in some ways.
But, who knows, maybe one day…
Paul J. Williams is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and producer. Also a decorated law enforcement officer of eighteen years, he currently serves as a police officer in Morris County, New Jersey. Paul previously served with the U.S. Department of Justice as a federal officer and the Newark Police Department, where he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest award, and responded to Ground Zero in New York City after the 9/11 attacks. CASE #5930, the short film he wrote and produced, will be released in early 2015.
(IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS photo from Bloody Disgusting.)