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 StreetHalloween 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.

3 thoughts on “Horror

  • 18th May 2010 at 16:27

    I’ve found myself genuinely scared by the Doom ][: Master Levels and F.E.A.R. 2 and Doom 3. Sure, Doom 3 and FEAR 2 are advanced, technologically, to the point where the atmosphere can provide an element of heart-pounding fear in the player, but in the Master Levels, the fear is all in the level design. Compared to modern FPS games, Doom ][ is incredibly simple and rough, but it is in the design of each level itself that kept me guessing what was around the next corner every time I found myself at a corner. (Only to have a wall open behind my character filled with Chaingun Guys.)

    As for scary movies, it’s rare that a movie scares me. The Exorcist scared me. It was the quick half-frame shot of the demon during the medical exam and then the demon’s face appearing on the hood fan in the kitchen. That is scary.
    Deliverance was also kinda creepy.

  • 18th May 2010 at 16:47

    To be fair, Dead Space was actually pretty scary in places – but it’s still more of an action game than anything else (and, like pretty much every action game, there comes a point in the game where your upgrades and gear make you invincible – and thus takes the fear away).

    I haven’t played Doom 3, but I have heard good reports about the atmospherics.

  • 26th July 2010 at 20:23

    I haven’t seen a good horror movie in ages. I tried watching Saw and got bored. Yes, it’s gross, but not scary.


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