Philip Alvarez, a member of the Post-Geek Singularity and lover of all-things horror, writes in to share his love of the genre and how he thinks it’s grown and matured over the years.
Greetings Rob, Lys & fellow imagination connoisseurs,
I was pleased when my letter was read on Wineing episode 80. Now that you know horror is my favorite genre it makes this letter easier to write. Here is the main reason why & I know Rob loves to read these sorts of letters. Should I start by saying what my favorite movie in the genre is?
Well that’s easy it’s The Exorcist. Another I’d add to the list of perfect films.
But the films I appreciated the most are that of the slasher. Freddy Krueger being my all time favorite icons especially. There’s also Jason, Michael, Leatherface & Chucky. For most of my childhood & teens those were the top dog to me. I even at 10 years old had a Freddy poster on my wall. My mom hated it & my friends did as well going into my room. Heck I couldn’t even place my bed anywhere near it.
A couple years later a friend of mine introduced me to a real life horror icon, Stephen King & I was immediately hooked. He had all his books & we watched all the movies based on them like Carrie, The Shining, Christine, Cujo, etc. Unlike the slashers I grew up adoring, I became more fascinated by King’s work because they were more urban oriented & felt like they could happen in the real world. Well maybe not IT but that’s for another discussion. I remember seeing Misery in theaters & so awe struck by it I just had to read the book (yes I’m not much of a reader). I ended up doing a book report on it & my teacher was surprised I picked it, nevertheless I got an A on it.
Now y’all might be asking well what else do I love about horror. The simple answer is I LOVE IT ALL! Prepping for this letter made me realize that like science fiction, horror has many sub genres. Movies like Alien, Predator & Terminator (yes I think the first one has horror elements) are a combination of both. You have the monster genre (Universal, Wolf Man a personal fav), the vampire genre, the creature genre the zombie genre, the supernatural genre, the psychological genre the paranormal genre, the demonic/devil genre & so on. I am pretty sure I named one from the different genres on my recommendations list.
Now there was about a 5 year period in the early 1990s where the horror genre lost some of its appeal & I began to become discouraged. What has happened to my beloved genre? I personally blame the psycho sexual thriller craze at the time. Don’t get me wrong as Campea would say bring on the filthy. Basic Instinct & Sliver are two personal favorites by the way.
I was worried horror had become almost nonexistent like the Western. That is until a little movie which came out in December 1996 called Scream. The movie is of course directed by Wes Craven, creator of my horror BFF Freddy Krueger & has gloriously saved the horror genre. A movie that satirized the genre in a clever & meta way. Audiences loved the film & introduced many unknown to the genre. All the movies still hold up well today even with knowing the twists. I’m looking forward to Scream 5, especially in the hands of the directors who made Ready Or Not, a film I had a blast watching.
Heading into the new millennium my beloved genre started to become a little more creative. We were introduced to a movie where the villain is unseen, Death itself, the movie is Final Destination. A franchise known for its well crafted suspense and elaborate death scenes. The franchise could’ve easily overstayed its welcome but ended up going full circle with the final installment. A rarity for the genre.
After that horror was introduced to a new genre called J horror, remakes of horror films from Japanese culture. It had a strong start with the movie The Ring, genuinely creepy and well made, especially for a PG-13 rating. Other J horror remakes followed like The Grudge, The Eye, One Missed Call, etc, yet as is typical by Hollywood standards eventually became stale & died out. I still appreciate them today however as any horror buff should.
Then something crazy happened that I wasn’t happy with at first. Hollywood began to remake the very films I grew up with like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Elm Street, Friday the 13th & Dawn of the Dead, Prom Night, Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, & The Omen. The only good ones in my opinion were TCM & Dawn of the Dead. The Elm Street one was say it with me BLASPHEMY! Others I enjoyed though were Evil Dead, The Crazies, & Fright Night.
I became worried though once again with the cliche you’re ruining my childhood. I realize a lot of the mentioned films were spread out over the years but just showing my annoyance of these remakes. Another craze that worried me about horror was the found footage film.
Forgive me being a bit controversial on my own favorite genre but I find Blair Witch to be overrated & uninspiring. That’s my attitude for the majority of these kinda films. I just find them all very boring & not scary at all. Don’t even get me started on the Paranormal Activity franchise. Whew ok slight rant over now!
Now we Head back to the year 2004 & yet another sub genre is added to the list, torture porn horror, a term I personally don’t care for. I’ve heard James Wan himself hates it as well. Wan of course directed Saw, which started the new genre. Even today the movie has my favorite twist ever, yes even better than The Sixth Sense.
The Saw franchise spawned 6 sequels & an attempted reboot. Another film Spiral was due this year written by non other than comedian Chris Rock, go figure. I do have a special place for the Saw films. Although known for their elaborate traps, over the top gore & twist endings. My appreciation for the series was me seeing them as psychological thrillers. Jigsaw was a fascinating character who played mind games with his victims, yet not once killed any of them, the choice was always their own. I was also happy for James Wan who today is now a very well respected director. I do appreciate his Conjuring & Insidious films as well as one of my recommendations Dead Silence. It was awesome seeing him branch out onto other genres too with Furious 7 & Aquaman.
Well allow me to conclude this letter with the following thoughts. I believe the older I get the more mature and welcoming the horror genre has become, it feels like we both grew up together. Films in the recent years have gotten more honest & smart & thought provoking. I’m talking those like Get Out, Us, Hereditary, Orphan, A Quiet Place, Ready or Not & Midsommar.
My beloved genre is in good hands right now & I will continue to support it till the end of time.
So thank you Rob & Elysabeth for allowing me to share my love of the horror genre. This was indeed my story to tell & I am grateful to the PGS community for listening and welcoming me.
Happy Halloween & stay safe out there.