Innovation – A way to good horror

Halloween is just around the corner and because horror movies are a significant part of Hallowen and this year’s theme for the Freshmen Party was movies, I wanted to talk about horror movies.

Horror movies are perhaps the most distinctive genre of films. Though decades ago horror has been mixed with comedy or even action, but the essence of horror is to evoke the horror and fear of the spectator. That feeling is a pivotal thing, like a psychological horror in Shining, a zombie movie like 28 Days Later or even a Scary Movie (in which the horror could have caused by the movie itself being such a bad movie).

In 1978, a movie called Halloween (directed by John Caprpenter) had it premiere. Halloween on its own part created a new subgene for horror: a slasher film. Its name comes from the reference for slicing or stapping. Slasher film often has a serial killer who one by one chases its victims and has almost supernatural talents. Carpenter created a modern monster, Michael Myers, a serial killer who chased teenagers at Halloween. The film was produced with a very small budget and a lot of compromises had to be made in making of the movie. Carpenter even had to compose the now iconic music of the film when the original music did not satisfied the producers.

In the early years of the eighties, Sam Raimi (still unknown to the whole world) wanted to make a horror movie with his friends. Raimi had only a intrest to movies, a modest 90,000$ budget, and many of the movie actors were Raim’s friends. Raimi, however, had a great love for movies and even a greater vision of a horror movie that would be different than others. This led to the emergence of The Evil Dead, a trendsetter of his time and one of the greatest classic of horror films. The film received a cult fame with its visual look, innovative camera use and on that time´s standards with a brutal and grotesque horror but not forgetting the dark humor. The film was also banned in several countries, including in Finland. However, VHS copies of the film eventually surfaced to Finland (that is the VCR tape thing before the DVD). The Evil Dead was like an urban horror story, a movie that few and brave had seen. The film could be compared to Jimi Hendrix’s only performance in Finland. Everyone says they were on that gig, but only a few people really were there. The banning of the movie, the new kind of horror trend, the talk around it, and the washed up image  quality of the VHS by the continuous copying of it were strong issues behind the success of the movie.

Last example that I want to mention, is the film The Blair Witch Project, which was premiered in 1999. The film was directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. Foremost it broke the boundaries of filmmaking with new style and execution. It was a huge success with over 248$ million in revenue and the movie had a modest 60,000$ budget. The film created a new subgenre; found footage horror. The movie follows a group of three people who go out to explore the forests that rumors say inhabits a witch. The film is depicted through the lens of the cheap cameras used by the group and shown so that the viewer would see the content from the camcorders in  almost as a style of documentary. The filmmakers used viral advertising by publishing missing people ads in newspapers and on the internet. Many viewers thought the movie was true and it contributed to its enormous success.

All three of the films mentioned earlier have a lot in common. All movies are its director’s early production or a first full-length movie. Everything is depicted in a modest budget and all the movies have been significant for the creating  a new subgenre in horror. Horror films have traditionally been the biggest success stories, as the studios seldom invest large amounts of money on production because of the fear of failure. And when the budget is small, the director has to be often creative on making  the movie. Creativity creates new ways to do the same thing differently and has been the cause of many new genres.

For the fans of horror movies, there will be a rare event during the next week’s contact free week, when movie theatre Finnkino Fantasia of Jyväskylä organizes Night of the Horror-event on Friday, 19 October. The event will feature a 40th anniversary version of the Halloween movie, The Evil Dead, and also a new Halloween movie that gets its premiere on the same day. The same day is also my birthday, so as a great friend of films I would not have wanted a better birthday present for myself. Sure, no one is arranging such an event for me, but it’s nice to believe that way. For me, The Evil Dead has always been all time favorite and although today the film is essentially just an exciting memory of the past, seeing the movie in theater will be an unforgettable experience.


Juho Niemelä | Peer tutoring

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