...or are we all just in an endless bitch cycle that's constantly evolving as each generation picks up new horror fans where the glory days seemed more...ermmm... glorious compared to "now"? I did finally view the teaser for the Elm Street redo last night and it got me pondering this very question throughout the day. Prepare for rambling. Remember the days when Clive Barker was the golden boy of the genre on-screen after Hellraiser arrived? The potential seemed palpable for a time until it just fizzled out with the hacked up Nightbreed and the Bakula-powered Lord of Illusions. I can't think of another single personality that had so much buzz since. Now he's back behind the pen, behind the business end of films, and sounds as if a nailbomb went off in his throat. Of course, Barker is in good company with a bevy of directors that struck cinematic terror only to temper into the studio system or be carried off into our obsessive horror dorkdom.
So is it really a question of a singular person with a series of box office hits that magically press all the buttons? If these recent horror icon re-imaginings are any indication; I'd say catering to "us" and tweens the studios are desperately trying to lure in either intentionally or not is virtually impossible. They might feed you the line that they're molding these characters for their generation. That's bullshit. Except for a very scant few wunderkinds; everyone fueling the creation of these films are certainly old enough to have been waiting in line for the next original Freddy, Jason, or Michael sequel back in the '80s. What the hell happened? Money happened. 13-year-old girls and Twilight happened and we're still reeling. And I'm sorry but Scream happened as well along with all the flowery teen soap rotgut that followed.
Where has true horror villainy gone? It moved to the Thriller section of Netflix. Nowadays horror baddies need to be clever, cunning, yet also sympathetic souls. Jigsaw never killed anyone and merely wished to make people realize the value of their lives. Even Rob Zombie whose lyrics are riddled with unsavory characters with a don't give no fuck attitude reduced The Shape to a 99.6% chance of afternoon redneck rampage. Zombies have become rocket-propelled and now more than ever symbolize any mass threat. In mainstream horror, if you're a giant drooling olaf with a machete (or chainsaw), you're fine for consumption because you're unbelievable. Bring Anton Chigurh or Ledger's The Joker in (or name your film Trick 'r Treat) and direct-to-video you go. Or you're marketed to an entirely different audience and garner a usually limited theatrical release. Heaven forbid the horror genre obtain a truly vile character to nest in pop culture's consciousness once again. Who would have thought, all those horror flicks your mother scoffed at actually taught you something--how to be fearful of evil. Not today, with many screen frights injecting far too many shades of gray into matters that should clearly be wicked.
This is why I agree with Mr. Astro over at The Cheap Bin, "New Freddy" needs to stay grounded in something with the distinct ring of true abhorrent evil. If not, we're going to be left with yet another flick and in this case icon reconditioned to essentially a book slamming on a table while reading. You jump, look up to see your jokester friend, and proceed to forget about it entirely as soon as you walk out of the theater. But if present, that kernel of repugnance actually just might be that dim beckon of hope horror fans have been waiting for in multiplex scares...