What Makes a Good Horror Movie? The Answer Revealed with a Journey Through Classic Horror Films Clips

A few min­utes with Lewis Bond’s first video essay, “Let’s Dis­cuss Hor­ror,” above, was all it took to scup­per my care­ful avoid­ance of cer­tain film fran­chis­es—Saw, Hos­tel, The Human Cen­tipede

Bond’s cin­e­mat­ic pre­oc­cu­pa­tions usu­al­ly come with far few­er explod­ing heads. Lat­er entries on his Chan­nel Criswell Youtube chan­nel explore such Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion-wor­thy top­ics as “Colour in Sto­ry­telling,” “The French New Wave,” and “Stan­ley Kubrick.”

Clear­ly, he cares about the hor­ror genre, as well as the more rar­i­fied stuff. He opines that hor­ror movies have lost their capac­i­ty to scare. The industry’s quest for ever more trans­gres­sive shocks and gore (many of which are on dis­play above) has left view­ers desen­si­tized. Bond likens the phe­nom­e­non to hit­ting a brick wall and “try­ing to break it down by adding more bricks.”

Part of the prob­lem, Bond sug­gests, is an indus­try onus to deliv­er wall-to-wall deprav­i­ty, the gross­er, the bet­ter. Tor­ture porn may have cor­nered a siz­able piece of the mar­ket, but lack of fore­play is killing the sus­pense. Slow builds such as Dan­ny Torrence’s end­less Big Wheel rides past Room 237 or Rosemary’s uneasy preg­nan­cy are a thing of the past. Today’s film­mak­ers have the meat hooks out from the get go.

When audi­ences become inured to the non-stop buf­fet of burst­ing entrails and the rot­ting zom­bies  who feast on them, film­mak­ers grow even more reliant on jump scares. These pop-go-the-weasel moments invari­ably get a rise out of me, but Bond, like most hor­ror purists, views them with dis­dain. Too easy.

“Let’s Dis­cuss Hor­ror” con­tains a pletho­ra of them, but they seem sil­ly, divorced from the nar­ra­tive and the req­ui­site scary music.

(Speak­ing of which, “Tubu­lar Bells” under­scores a good por­tion of Bond’s breezy nar­ra­tion.)

When­ev­er Bond makes a point with a longer scene from more cel­e­brat­ed fare such as JAWS, Don’t Look Now, or Audi­tion, he includes a click­able link that will deposit view­ers on the oth­er side of spoil­ers. Depend­ing on your sat­u­ra­tion point, you may find your­self wish­ing those links would drop you off in Linus’ pump­kin patch.

Hap­py Hal­loween!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The First Hor­ror Film, George Méliès’ The Manor of the Dev­il (1896)

Watch the Cult Clas­sic Hor­ror Film Car­ni­val of Souls (1962)

Mar­tin Scors­ese Names the 11 Scari­est Hor­ror Films: Kubrick, Hitch­cock, Tourneur & More

Time Out Lon­don Presents The 100 Best Hor­ror Films: Start by Watch­ing Four Hor­ror Clas­sics Free Online

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her play Zam­boni Godot is open­ing in New York City in March 2017. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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  • TimJ says:

    That Bond has cho­sen to use the scari­est movie music ever — Sus­piria by Gob­lin from the hor­ri­fy­ing Dario Argen­to mas­ter­work “Sus­piria” to both begin and end this ter­rif­ic video is pure genius.

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