Here’s an interesting investigation done by Marco Lanzagorta that charts worldwide horror film releases by decade. His investigation only uses the Internet Movie Database to chart general trends of the genre, but it is interesting to think about.
A particularly interesting piece of information quoted in the article: “during the ‘60s only about 35 percent of the horrors film made in the world were produced in the US. Since then, however, this percentage has increased rather dramatically. Indeed, while in 1961, 32 percent of the fear flicks were American, by 2006 the percentage increased to 68, more than doubling its value and completely dominating the current market.”
Once again, these are just general numbers that only take into account what the IMDb considers “horror”, but it gives some evidence to my opinion that horror fans are so starved for quality films, that they’ll jump on anything in order to satiate that desire. There’s been a long standing opinion amongst American horror fans in particular that American horror sucks. Innovation has been ceded to Asia, and to a lesser extent, Europe and Mexico so the popular opinion goes. There is a notion that America, rather than lead the world in quality, has fallen back on rehashing its own “classics” and is more concerned with quantity over quality.
Maybe that’s true to a certain extant. What can’t be denied is that there has been an amazing increase in output of American horror cinema. Whether it be big budget studio films, or low-budget shlock, the sheer amount of horror films has skyrocketed. What this means is that our favorite genre is enjoying a popularity and interest that has never been seen before now in terms of output, artistic interest, and acceptance . There must be some reason why thousands upon thousands of people in America are making horror movies, right? I’ve gotta believe it goes beyond simply wanting to “make a quick buck” with a low-budget film.
There’s also got to be something as to why America in particular has increased its horror output so dramatically. Maybe it’s just a new generation of young people raised on fun 80’s films? Maybe we can just afford cameras and have easier access to the tools necessary to make films than other countries? What is going on right now that has caused us to latch onto horror so fiercely?
But by having such a dramatic increase in films, it becomes harder and harder to find the quality. When you see 20 no-budget films with no production values and horrendous acting, does that make a film like Hostel seem “superior” by comparison? I’m not trying to pick on Eli Roth, but I think there is a real feeling amongst horror fans that they are so desperately trying to find something to like, that they’ll overlook certain films just because everything around it is so poor in comparison.
I haven’t really tried to answer anything definitively with this blog entry. But I’ve posed a bunch of questions and am interested in hearing what you all think. What do you think is behind the explosion of horror films here in America? Do you think it’s diluted the quality for the sake of quantity? How does this information change the way we currently perceive the “health” of the genre?
Give me your thoughts.