Hey y’all. Ever wonder what I’m doing during these long interminable dry spells between posts? Well, I’m writing screenplays, that’s what. And someone over at Bluecat Screenwriting Competition decided to interview me about it.
But if you are all like “I’m not clicking on one more link today and could give a crusty eye boog about his half-witted thoughts on screenwriting”, then I say to you … fine … be that way! But just read this one part where I talk about PMD and horror movies and shnizzle…
BLUECAT: You maintain a blog, Post Mortem Depression, about slasher films from the 1970s. What draws you to this specific genre, and do you think modern horror directors could learn something from the films of this period?
Tim Grant: My Dad used to bring me to the Drive-Ins when I was a kid. I grew up on Halloween, Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead -- all of the great and not-so-great horror flicks of the late 70s and early 80s. Those Friday and Saturday nights are among my favorite childhood memories.
In terms of modern horror movies, I’ve been generally disappointed with the lack of character development and story. They often make the mistake of focusing on the monster instead of the heroine (she is usually female). If the heroine is flat and the demon doesn’t line up with the psychological problem she needs to solve, then it just seems to be a parade of gore without purpose to me.
But this was even true in the “golden age” of horror in the 70s and 80s. You had classics like The Exorcist, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but you also had shoddy imitators like Beyond the Door, New Year’s Evil and Pieces. The thing about bad movies of that era is that they were low-budget and looked like crap, so they are fun and cheesy and get a pass on story.
The newer bad horror films have big budgets and expensive effects, but haven’t really upped the ante in the story and character department, which is too bad, because the story-crafting part is comparatively cheap.
But there are some great 21st century horror movies: Martyrs, Wolf Creek, Eden Lake, Lake Mungo, The Descent, Let Me In / Let the Right One In, Trick r’ Treat, [rec], Zombieland, House of the Devil, probably a bunch I’m forgetting. Each one took familiar genre elements and did something very fresh with them while paying close attention to story and character.
In general, I think horror gets a bad rap. There are certainly lots of bad horror movies out there, but the genre as a whole still gets maligned as harmful by some who claim to be spiritual or psychological. I find this ironic, since at the core of all great religions and depth psychology is the basic idea that the path to wholeness always starts with a descent into the darkness and a confrontation with our demons. It is an archetypal human growth cycle and horror movies provide a safe, communal, fun way to engage in it.
Jung said “to confront a person with his Shadow is to show him his own light," and I can’t say it any better than that.