Why I Don’t Like Popular Horror Movies?
It may come as a shock to some people, considering my love of the genre and what I write, but I don’t like really popular horror movies.
I should probably explain what I mean by this, first so you can go ahead and get the torches and pitchforks ready to chase me through the town, but also so you can hear what I do like and maybe understand why.
There are horror movies that have stood the test of time to become popular and for the life of me, I cannot understand why. Movies like Halloween, An American Werewolf in London, Phantasm, Friday the 13th, and more are so painful to me that I can barely make it through. Bad acting, bad writing, bad effects, bad cinematography, bad editing, and on and on and on. It used to make me wonder if there is truly something wrong with me since these are so popular and so beloved, why can’t I like them? But, now, after many years of life and some wisdom under my belt I gotta say, no, there isn’t anything wrong with me. To me, these are just bad movies.
Pitchforks ready yet?
I am confident that in just a couple of lines of text, I’ve offended or angered or bothered someone who finds these movies their favorite. The movies that they feel best articulate their taste and style. The movies they feel a connection to on a personal level, for whatever reason. It is OK to feel that because they are that important to you. They just aren’t important to me.
At no point do I think these movies should be rounded up, carted over to the proverbial incinerator, and just shoved off into the fiery end never to be seen again. No, that would be tragic. They deserve a place in the history of movies and of the horror genre. It is important that there is an iconic character with a hockey mask who can’t die next to a hapless American turned into a werewolf next to a fake funeral home director who takes the dead to an alien planet. These are just not important to me.
So, what is important to me? Well, as you are gearing up with the mob to come force me out of town, I’ll explain. The horror movies of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The Universal monsters. The giant insects taking a town. The vampires in the old castles. Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and so many others. Those B-movies playing on a Saturday afternoon at 2pm on basic cable or that one station in town that only plays syndicated sitcoms at night. Those are important horror movies to me because they are what I grew up with.
When I was a kid in Florida, my Saturdays were spent with Dr. Paul Bearer. He was an over-the-top host of a local TV station’s “creature feature” who used home-made gags and puns to lead into some unheard of B-movie (at best). I was riveted. Couldn’t get enough of the grainy B&W film and horrific sound effects. It was such an important time for me as each movie I saw enforced the imagination I now use to write. For each rubber monster hovering over a miniature scale city my mind envisioned the people below. For each creature pulling itself out of the swamp I envisioned what their childhood was like. I took those moments in forgotten films to make my imagination soar.
At this point you’ve probably stopped the mob to all look at each other in confusion wondering why I could love some movies that seem to be exactly the same quality as others I confess to not like. Well, the answer is because. That’s it. Just because.
I could chalk it up to nostalgia, and it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. Nostalgia has a strong influence on us and how it interacts with our moods, how it can sooth us, and even belay some anxiety. This may well be nostalgia behind everything I’m saying here, but I also think it is more than that. As humans are inherently complex thinking creatures, we are also more than one explanation.
None of us really have control over the things that excite, influence, shape, and develop our minds, hearts, and imaginations. We are shaped by what we have experienced and what we consume. For me, the consumption of old movies was more influencing than seeing the movies deemed “popular”. Who knows if I had seen those movies first and the old movies second if my tastes would have flipped. Maybe. Maybe not. Either way is not important. What is important is that we are each our own consumer of entertainment. If you are overjoyed to see Michael, yet again, take his white mask and terrorize Jamie Lee Curtis, then more power to you. If you are overjoyed to see Vincent Price lean into a room and flash that evil grin, then more power to you.
It is OK to dislike something that others may like. It is OK to like something others may dislike. We can create a robust horror-loving community of geeked out aficionados if we all realize this. And isn’t that what we all love about horror to begin with? That there is a shared community of folks who love the things that go bump in the night, no matter what does the bumping.
A. S. MacKenzie
A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.
Man after my own horror heart here, I love the Universal 1930’s horrors, the 1940’s from Val Lewton and the Gothic, Lee and co.