I used to be quite into horror films. I say ‘used to’ not because I’ve grown out of it or anything, but because the genre doesn’t seem to exist any more.
When I was a nipper, you couldn’t move for horror – and I mean genuine horror, rather than just films marketed as horror (although there was a lot of that, too). There were films aplenty with atmosphere, tension and usually – but not always – a bit of gore.
We had decent slasher films, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th (and even some of their sequels), and more visceral horror like The Fly (Cronenberg) and The Evil Dead. There were genuinely terrifying concepts like The Thing (Carpenter) and Alien (both of which are more about human psychology than the alien killing machine stomping around and eating people).
Similarly with videogames there was a whole genre of ‘survival horror’, identified in the early Resident Evil games – which certainly lacked a fair bit in complexity of gameplay and decent translation from Japanese, but they made up for it by providing atmosphere in spades.
Nowadays, there aren’t really any horror games. The Resident Evil series has transformed itself into an action shooter, which is fair enough, but they’ve sucked out most of the atmosphere in the process (and in the latest instalment they gave you a permanent – and irritating – AI companion, so you didn’t even have the ‘trapped and alone’ concept…).
As for films, our modern-day horror equivalent is… what? Saw? A series of Heath Robinson machines with blood and guts? They can be enjoyable, but more in a ‘Columbo’ way – you’re not frightened by them, and although there are occasionally bits that turn your stomach the real point is figuring out the contraptions (and the overall puzzle).
Like Diagnosis: Murder in set a sewer, then.