10/31/08

Boo Humbug!


Hasn't all that anti-Halloween stuff gotten a little old? It's funny how pagan traditions associated with Christmas and Easter are okay, but Halloween traditions are considered evil in many churches. Santa and the Easter Bunny are fine, but ghosts are strictly off limits!

My favorite propagandist and violently anti-Catholic hate monger has to be the infamous Jack Chick. I highly recommend you visit his tract at Chick Publications called "Devil's Night", an insanely nonfactual piece of propaganda against Halloween. It's hilarious and at the same time rather sad. Here's a few panels from the tract.



If you enjoyed that, then you don't want to miss an earlier anti-Halloween tract by Chick found here.

This same sort of odd religious vein spawned another weird comic - the infamous Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika. View the entire comic pdf file here. Now, it's nowhere near as hateful as the Chick tracts - not by a long shot. But it is a rather strange little comic with a patriotic and religious bent that I found interesting.


But back to the subject of Halloween haters...

It's interesting to notice the inconsistencies that abound in the anti-Halloween crowd. I've already mentioned that these Christians embrace many other pagan rituals associated with Christmas and Easter. I also wonder why is it okay to watch Snow White or The Little Mermaid which feature witches, but a witch associated with Halloween is verboten?

When I was a kid, this sort of angry sentiment either didn't exist or I was sheltered from it, because it never would have dawned me, awkwardly dressed as Frankenstein's monster in 1975, that I was being a satanist!

So, just enjoy yourself and... Have a Happy Halloween!!

[this image and more like it found here]

10/29/08

Top Haunted Hits for Halloween

Just a few days till Halloween and I thought I'd share some of my favorite songs to fit the season. The first ten songs are pretty well known, but great music for Halloween nonetheless. The next list features some lesser known greats to check out if you haven't heard them.

1. "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Hawkins claimed to have fathered 57 children; however, a search after his death has revealed a number closer to 75.

2. "The Thing That Should Not Be" by Metallica
Anything based on the Cthulhu Mythos earns automatic points; but this one is great in its own right.


3. "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" by Concrete Blonde
Peter Buck of R.E.M. appeared on the Bloodletting LP, contributing to the song "The Darkening of the Light".

4. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by the Bauhaus
Nearly nine minutes in length and gothic to its core, it was actually recorded in one take. The lyrics are masterful and dark: "The bats have left the bell tower. The victims have been bled. Red velvet lines the black box. Bela Lugosi's dead... Alone in a darkened room, The Count."

5. "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Elvis Presley once said this was the dumbest song he'd ever heard. I'm inclined to agree... but it's still a lot of fun.

6. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
This was Ozzy's first recording after the death of his original guitarist, Randy Rhoads.


7. "Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen
As fitting and effective as "The Killing Moon" was for the opening sequence, the director of Donnie Darko actually wanted to use INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart" instead, but could not secure the rights and went with the Bunnymen tune instead. Thank God.

8. "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield
I guess it's only because of its use in The Exorcist that I think it's scary, but it's scary nonetheless. Tubular Bells was actually the first album released by Richard Branson's Virgin Records label.

9. "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
For me, the dark and sinister effect of the song was shattered upon the airing of the Saturday Night Live skit in 2000 where Christopher Walken, as Bruce Dickinson, demands "More Cowbell!"

10. "Pet Semetary" by The Ramones
Many know that Stephen King was a big fan of the Ramones and included "Who Made Who?" on his crappy movie Maximum Overdrive.

I could also list "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo, "Season of the Witch" by Donovan, or "Halloween" by Siouxie and the Banshees, or maybe a song from Rocky Horror... but enough with stating the obvious- let's look at a few lesser known gems.

1. "Burke and Hare" by the Scaffold
This one's about those grave robbers from the 19th century done with jazzy 1960's pep. Who would've thought a song about body snatching could be so fun!!



2. "Cthlu thlu" by Caravan
Listen and read about it here on a previous post. Another H.P. Lovecraft inspired recording - this time by an underrated yet extremely talented prog rock band.

3. "The Blob" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (performed by the Five Blobs)
This may be the catchiest song of all time. I implore you to go here and listen to this finger snappin' classic from the movie. The first part is a peppy lounge instrumental, and then the lyrics kick in.... trust me, you'll love it.

4. "Witch's Hat" by The Incredible String Band
I admit it - it is an acquired taste. Very, very odd stuff. But the String Band was and is highly regarded outside the US and among rock snobs everywhere. It's certainly not something meant for Shadow Stevens to read on the top forty, but it does grow on you if you give it a chance.



5. "Down in the Park" by Tubeway Army/Gary Numan
There something about this song by the guy who recorded the new wave hit "Cars" that scares the hell out of me. Maybe it's the reference to a "rape machine" or the haunting synthesizer... whatever the reason, it's a dark, dark song from the era of Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow.



6. Phantasm Theme
Laugh if you want, but give this one a good listen before you scorn this pick. At first, I thought it sounded like an jazzed up rip off of John Carpenter's Halloween theme. But really, it's just an enjoyable little tune for a movie about putting giant insects in garbage disposals and flying silver balls of death.



7. Profundo Rosso (Deep Red) Theme by Goblin
Yet another movie theme instrumental. I think any horror song list has to contain a song by Goblin - the guys who provided the themes to numerous giallo and horror films of the seventies. This is my favorite of their recordings - it has that generic piano/keyboard intro (similar to Halloween and Phantasm) so common in horror films, but gets really good once the drums kick in. The song is extremely effective in the Argento movie.



8. The theme song to the film Point of Terror (1971)
This song is at the same time my worst and favorite horror song of all time. I can't quite figure out if I love it for its seventies grooviness or hate it for its seventies lameness. The song is performed to utter seventies perfection (or is it utter seventies lousiness) by Peter Carpenter and can be found towards the bottom of my post here.

And finally...

9."Tam Lin" by Fairport Convention
I only just recently devoted an entire post to this classic here.

I could think of more, but my choices seem to be getting more and more obscure, so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

10/27/08

Kid Stuff #3: The Top 6 Horror Board Games

6. Green Ghost
Advertised as the first glow in the dark board game released in 1965



5. Voice of the Mummy
This one debuted in 1971 and included a battery powered record player. "The unholy snakes of Amon reach from below. Move up one level!"

4. Ka-bala
This game debuted in 1967 and featured tarot cards and a huge glowing eyeball. Better still, the instructions were in the form of an EC comic.


3. Creature Features
Released in 1975, this game was a horror themed version of Monopoly. It featured well known films like King Kong and lesser known ones like Willard, Dr. Phibes, and Dracula has Risen from the Grave.














2. Whitch Witch?

This 1970 game featured a "whammy ball" that dropped down a chimney that would cause damage to any room at Ghost Castle.... hopefully, it wouldn't knock your player of its track. According to Wikipedia, the game was converted to a Real Ghostbusters game which was identical in all but the characters and cards.


1. OuijaThe mother of all horror board games, it dates back to 1200 B.C. The current form of the ouija board with the planchette and familiar design goes back to at least the late 1800's.

Aleister Crowley has stated, of the Ouija Board that, "There is, however, a good way of using this instrument to get what you want, and that is to perform the whole operation in a consecrated circle, so that undesirable aliens cannot interfere with it. You should then employ the proper magical invocation in order to get into your circle just the one spirit you want. It is comparatively easy to do this. A few simple instructions are all that is necessary, and I shall be pleased to give these, free of charge, to any one who cares to apply." [quote from Wikipedia]
I'll take a rain check, Mr. Crowley.

I love this advertisement. So, they finally contact a spirit from the afterlife, and all they can think of to ask it is "What college will accept me?" and "Should we go steady?" Also, isn't hilarious how they're taking this ancient occult device endorsed by Aleister Crowley and turning it into a fun idea for a date like charades or Twister! (see related post on Hexploitation)

10/26/08

Tam Lin: Halloween's Greatest Hit


“I forbid you maidens all that wear gold in your hair
To travel to Carterhaugh, for young Tam Lin is there"
- Tam Lin [traditional ballad]

Well, I was doing a little research for songs about Halloween for a post and came across "Ten Halloween Songs That Aren't as Lame as the Monster Mash" by Blog Critics Magazine. I was extremely pleased and at the same time dismayed by the list.

Pleased because it is better than any list I could come up with.
Dismayed because it is so good that there's no longer any point for me make a list.

I will comment, however, on the song that tops their list - Tam Lin.




In this blogger's humble opinion, "Tam Lin" is so incredible, so hauntingly magnificent that it renders any other Halloween song inconsequential. The song is at least as old as 1549 (when it was mentioned in The Complaynt of Scotland) and tells of midnight riders and fairy queens on Halloween night. The best version that I've heard is by the English folk band, Fairport Convention.

Now, maybe English folk is not your cup of tea. I can understand that it may be an acquired taste. I'm more of a Foghat kinda' guy myself, but can still appreciate the splendor of this recording. What makes the song so great, so much so that I have basically gushed praise for the last two paragraphs?

First, there's the singing prowess of Sandy Denny. She recorded this song a couple days before Halloween in 1968, and the spirit of the season certainly shines through. Many may recognize her vocals from Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore", and it is undeniable that she has one of the best voices in contemporary music.

The antiquity of the song gives it a certain degree of mystery as well. Indeed, there is supposedly a spot of ground in Scotland where grass will not grow - where 3 containers of milk or water stood where Janet dipped her lover to turn him back to a human.

Also, I will add that the lyrical quality reads like great literature and elevates the song even further.

"But tonight is Halloween and the fairy folk ride
Those that would let true love win at Mile's Cross they must bide"

Add to the mix the incredible guitar of Richard Thompson, and you've got yourself one helluva Halloween song!

For a much more in-depth (and far superior) analysis of "Tam Lin" go here and here. You can get lost in the history and mythology of the song- to see how complex the analysis of the song can be, go here and here where the storyline and history is plotted in excruciatingly intricate detail.

Try to do that with a Foghat song!

10/24/08

Comic Books #5: The Comics Code Authority: R.I.P.

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written."
- Oscar Wilde

It's a fact that comic books from the 1940's and 1950's were often shockingly brutal and degrading. The Comics Code Authority was created in 1954 to deal with the public outcry against comics like this one from 1947.

From the cover:

Girl 1: SO!! You couldn't see me because you had a date with the boys! All right, wise guy, you asked for it! I'm gonna have a chat with the Cops! OH!!
Guy: Can I help it if you're too dumb to know when you're gettin' the brush off! GO AHEAD BIG MOUTH, squeal to the Cops! I'd like to see you try it!
Girl 2: Step aside, Frankie!! Let me give her a goin' over, woman style! I'd like to sharpen my nails on that fat face!!

Unfortunately, the code ended up being just as over the top as the comics they were trying to regulate with ridiculous rules such as "In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds." The code also has the dubious distinction of bringing down the creative and talented powerhouse of EC comics. Tales from the Crypt was no more (but their publisher, William Gaines, would go on to success with MAD magazine).

For an example, one stipulation of the code was that "Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities." I'm guessing this issue of Junior (Fox Features' answer to the Archie comics) wouldn't pass the test.

The following commentary on the infamous Crime SuspenStories 22, 1954 was found here. [cover pictured below]

This cover wins the contest for "most notorious cover illustration" hands down. When the Senate Committee of the Judiciary to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency began hearings in New York City in 1954, this particular cover caught the eye of Senator Estes Kefauver. William Gaines, the publisher of E.C. Comics, was put in the awkward position of having to defend the cover:
"Here is your May issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody axe holding a woman's head up, which has been severed from her body. Do you think that's in good taste?" asked Kefauver.

"Yes, sir, I do...for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that blood could be seen dripping from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody," replied Gaines.

"You've got blood coming out of her mouth."

"A little."
By the end of the day, William Gaines had achieved nationwide notoriety and crime comics had been pronounced guilty of corrupting the youth of America.


Of course, the inevitable question is where exactly to draw the line. Also, you would like to allow the comics to retain a little edge and not resort to silly and safe homogenized blather...

BUT you also would like to prevent violence run amok from getting into the hands of kiddies...

The solution (in my humble opinion) is to rely on parents, and not rely on the government to be our nanny. The particularly lurid comics won't be bought by mom and pop if they're doing their job as parents. And if (heaven forbid) one of these comics winds up in the hands of a minor, it won't ruin their life... kids are pretty resilient and will get over it.

The real culprit for this Comics Code mess is a book by Dr. Frederic Wertham called Seduction of the Innocent. The book spoke out against the comic industry and pointed the finger directly at specific issues of comic books. Parents across the country became alarmed. As it turns out, Seduction of the Innocent was a pretty messed up piece of work itself. In the book, Wertham claims that Wonder Woman is a lesbian, Batman and Robin are gay lovers and naked pictures could be deciphered from drawings of tree bark and muscles.

I especially love the theory that Batman and Robin are gay. The following comment (found here) highlights Wertham's supercharged homophobia.





“Batman and Robin, Wertham charged, inhabited ‘a wish dream of two homosexuals living together.’ They lived in ’sumptuous quarters,’ unencumbered by wives and girlfriends, with only an aged butler for company. They care for each other’s injuries, frequently shared quarters, and lounged together in dressing gowns. Worse still, both exhibited damning psychological characteristics: proclivities for costumes, dressing up, and fantasy play; secretive behavior and double-lives; little interest in women; and most damning of all, neurotic compulsions resulting in their violent vigilantism. Indeed, Wertham argued, depictions of Batman and Robin were frequently homoerotic, visually emphasizing Batman’s rippling physique and Robin’s splayed, bare thighs.”

“‘Only someone ignorant of the fundamentals of psychiatry and psychopathology of sex can fail to realize the subtle atmosphere of homoeroticism which pervades the adventures,’ wrote Wertham. ‘The Batman type of story may stimulate children to homosexual fantasies.’”


You be the judge...


Not surprisingly, juvenile delinquency did NOT decline after the institution of the comics code. And also not surprisingly, creative people found ways to bypass the rigorous code. One way was to issue the comics in magazine format - no longer technically a comic and therefore not bound by the code.

Eventually the code was modified, the sad truth behind the Wertham's "research" was revealed, and the code's influence shrunk to insignificance. Today only Archie comics and a few DC lines submit their comics for approval. Wertham would be so disappointed.

10/22/08

They Spanked Women in the Old Days


Above is the famous scene in McLintock! where The Duke publicly spanks his estranged wife played by Maureen O'Hara with what looks like a shovel. It contains one of my all time favorite lines:

"Let's not let an old Indian raid ruin a good barbeque - Meat's ON!"

That's what I call a man's movie. What's funny about it is that this spanking scene was used for basically all the movie posters and promotions! The poster below even refers to the spanking - it "wallops the daylights" out of other Westerns. Noticed they at least had the decency to remove the shovel from McLintock's hand for the movie poster. That would be taking it too far, I guess.

It seems to be all in good fun, right? Well, The Duke looks dead serious here. Maybe Maureen has reason to be scared - she looks horrified. Of course, the crowd just stands around and chuckles at the public spanking. Ha, Ha, Ha.

Of course, McLintock! is not alone. You'd be hard pressed to find memoribilia for the film Kiss Me Kate that doesn't feature a woman receiving a spanking over a guy's knee.


This sort of thing would be roundly condemned today, and probably rightly so. But there is a certain degree of hypocrisy today - where a McLintock! poster would be prohibited, yet women are degraded at every turn in advertising. I touched on this on my previous post A Long Time Ago Everyone Hated Women. I'm in the business of nostalgia here at Retrospace and simply find this sort of thing interesting - I'll leave it to the sociologists to work it out.

It's pretty interesting to look at all the examples in comic books. One minute superheroes are rescuing damsels in distress, the next minute their spanking them. Below the Dark Knight spanks for the camera. Click here to see Superman do the same.

The Phantom clip below is pretty good, but the worst comic book spanking simply HAS to be in Superboy. Click here to see the public humiliation unfold before your eyes.

Let's also remember that TV was no safe haven for women getting swatted by their men. Desi regularly spanked his wife on "I Love Lucy" - a fact that has inspired the ire of many commentators. See 'em here.

And on a similar tangent....
The next film doesn't feature a public spanking - it does, however, feature two women knocking the crap out of each other on the movie poster.

The Legend of Frenchie King is what happens when the French try to make a Western. On the bright side, it stars Claudia Cardinale and Brigitte Bardot. On the down side, it's brought to you by K-Tel. I never knew they were in the movie business.

On a related note, read my post on Sexist Ads.

10/20/08

Still Waiting on the DVD #2: Horror Movies


How is it possible that I Was a Teenage Werewolf is STILL not available on DVD? One of the most recognizable and influential drive-in horror flicks of all time, yet we can't watch it. I understand that it is a gradual process converting and releasing all these films to the DVD format, but when I look at some of the pointless crap that has already been released on DVD, it makes me wonder why I'm still kept waiting.

Here's a few other examples of great horror flicks being held captive in limbo. If you know that one of these has already been released, let me know please.

Whose idea was it to release Phantasm I, III, and IV, but leave out II? I liked the second one... too bad I can't watch it (sigh).

Piranha and Piranha 2 are unbelievably still unavailable on DVD. (correction: see comments)

I've written an extensive post on Pretty Maids All in a Row, the controversial film featuring Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson. Read the post and you'll see why it's imperative that the film get released on DVD pronto.
The Toybox (1971) is raved about in The Book of Lists: Horror and is called on IMDb "the best surreal Age of Aquarius sexpo overflowing with early seventies craziness ever made". Yet, if you want to watch it, your SOL.

Speaking of exploitation, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers just got released. Waiting this long for this VHS favorite is unforgivable. I guess I should stop bitching and just be glad it got released at all.

And, of course, I'm still waiting on many non-horror titles such as the TV series The Wonder Years and James at 15. Also, Marcia Brady in Skatetown USA still hangs elusively in VHS no-man's land. Gilligan is losing patience...

(By the way, I can't for the life of me remember who to thank for the Teenage Werewolf picture. I absolutely love this artist, but his/her name eludes me. If someone knows, I will happily give credit where it's due.)

10/19/08

The Boo Tube: Halloween on TV

I've already posted on the single greatest Halloween moment on TV - the infamous Paul Lynde special. I've also posted on the Muppet Halloween episode with Alice Cooper. Well, here's a few more notable Halloween moments from TV history.

The Halloween That Almost Wasn't: The Night Dracula Saved the World (1979) was a special with Judd Hirsch (Taxi) oddly cast as a vampire. You can watch a clip, and if you can make it to the six minute mark, you'll see Drac disrobe on the disco floor revealing a suit straight out of Saturday Night Fever.

Perhaps the most insane Halloween episode in TV history was the 1983 episode of The Facts of Life where the girls literally think Mrs. Garrett is a bloodthirsty killer who grinds up her victims into sausages! Don't believe me? Go here.

Here's a real rare treat - the 1977 Addams Family Halloween Special intro. It's a bit grainy and there's ten seconds of Elvira spliced at the end - but I'm not complaining. What did we do before YouTube?


The Halloween episode of Freaks and Geeks (1999) called "Tricks and Treats" may be my absolute favorite. In this episode, Lyndsey, while riding around with her friends, eggs a geeky looking boy walking down the street.... who ends up being her poor little brother. The show is set squarely in October 1980 and brings back a flood of Halloween memories.

A lot of sitcoms have aired a Halloween episode, such as Rosanne, Silver Spoons, Growing Pains, Home Improvement, Bewitched and The Office. Someone actually took the time write a long dissertation on the Perfect Strangers Halloween episode here. The same site also has a lengthy synopsis and review of the odd and long-forgotten 1986 Marc Summers (Unwrapped) "Magical Mystery Special" here.


If you're into the movie/TV vampire thing, Taliesin Meets the Vampires is hands down the best site out there. Here Taliesin looks at the memorable Gilligan's Island episode "Up at Bat". I'm not sure if it actually aired on Halloween, but we get to see the castaways in Transylvania in 1895.


The My So Called Life (1994) Halloween episode is one of the better Halloween themed TV episodes of recent history. Angela gets locked in the school with her friends, and things get genuinely creepy when she's transported back to the 1960's.

Of course, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) is an absolute must to watch each Halloween. Also, the Treehouse of Terror episodes on The Simpsons are highly regarded, but I'm beginning to state the obvious so I'll stop while I'm ahead.

10/17/08

Horror Movie Hall of Shame

Time to take out the trash.

My last couple posts have been kind of negative. So, I thought I'd compound the negativity with a list of some of the worst elements in the horror movie genre.

Film School Rejects has a great list of the worst horror movie remakes of all time. Not surprisingly, Psycho (1998) starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche ranks number one.

BloodyDisgusting.com has some great "worst of" lists including "The 10 Stupidest Motives In Slasher Movie History". Urban Legend: The Final Cut (2000) tops the list. The killer's motive? Oh, his script was passed over.... causing him to erupt into a murderous rampage twenty years later.

The lowest rated horror movie on IMDb is Demonsoul (1995). I've never seen it, and have no plans to. (By the way, the highest rated on IMDb is Psycho)

Karate Party has a list of the 100 worst names for horror movies. The list includes Aerobicide (1986) and The Carpet of Horror (1962). However, I didn't notice Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling on there.

The Incredibly Strange Creature: Or Why I stopped Living and Became a Mixed-up Zombie made the top of the list for Retrocrush's worst movie titles.

According to Best-Horror-Movies.com, the worst horror movie ever made is called Robot Monster (1953). Click here for their top 5 list.

The film is a double loser since the costume (a gorilla suit and diving helmet) has also made lists for being the worst monster costume ever.


Entertainment Weekly has a list of 15 nominees for the worst movie dialogue ever. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) made the list with this:
THE SCENE: Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) tearfully breaks up with her boyfriend and heads to her death.
THE LINE: ''I'm gone, like a turkey in the corn. Gobble gobble!''

The worst music in horror movie history would HAVE to be Peter Carpenter doing an awful Tom Jones in Point of Terror (1971). Although, it kind of grows on you in a groovy psychedelic kind of way. I beseech you to watch this clip - it has to be seen to be believed.






The worst horror movie adaptation would be I Am Legend (2007). The movie didn't follow the wonderful Matheson novel at all. Lame and boring from beginning to end.

The worst DVD cover of all time has to be Happy Birthday to Me. They took a great movie poster and VHS cover, featuring the iconic shish-kebab impalement, and replaced it with Photoshop lameness.

10/16/08

Opinions and Rants #4: Things Are Looking Deee-lightful!

It's been a little while since I've posted, I know. But after following the present state of the market and the presidential campaigns I find myself at a loss for words. It's awfully hard to focus on Halloween candy from the 70's when your presented with the possibility of an economic depression.... and all politicians want to do is stuff their own pockets, cheat on their wives, and bad mouth each other. Yeesh!

If you're looking for a sunny perspective, check back tomorrow. I'm getting pretty tired of things getting worse, and I'm ready for some of our elected officials to hurry up and set things right again.

Of course, the trouble with this mindset is that we can't depend on them to do anything. We have to take up the challenge ourselves, which means staying informed (i.e. stop making backyard wrestling videos) and getting active - even just making an informed vote.

I don't want to sound like an elitist or an intellectual snob, but each day I get a greater and greater impression that we're being dumbed down and losing touch. Sure, it's funny to watch Leno make fun of folks who can't point to Mexico on a map, but it's also pretty sad. If we don't watch out, we're going to end up like the society predicted in the crappy movie Idiocracy.



Look, I know this isn't exactly an intellectual blog. A recent post here dealt entirely with the naked chick on the Ohio Players album cover - not what you would call high-brow reading! Therefore, I'm reticent to point fingers.

All I'm saying is we all just need to keep our minds alert...and then it's OKAY to enjoy a little frivolous R & R. Ain't that right, Barney?

10/13/08

Fact or Fiction #9: The Economy of Horror


They say the horror genre flourishes during economic downturns. I'm not an expert in this area, but I would tend to agree. I will say that the genre's darker elements are much more pronounced during these times. For example:

The poor economy experienced during the 1970's resulted in some of the darkest and blackest horror films ever produced (i.e. Last House on the Left, The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). As the 80's and 90's progressed, America experienced a soaring economy and horror films which, for better or worse, were generally not as dark or boundary pushing.

If this principle holds true, we are in store for some mighty dark horror flicks. Ten trillion in debt, a stock market in a state of collapse, and 500 hundred billion owed to China.... let's see what horror goodness the awful economy brings!

Of course, some argue the exact opposite is true. When studios are prospering, they are more likely to take risks... thus begetting horror films that push the envelope. When studios are hurting financially, they are more likely to stick with the tried and true - the sequels and the remakes.

Whatever the case, the heyday of the horror pulp magazine was during the Great Depression (1929 - early 1940's). Looking at some of these magazines, it's hard not to be shocked at how dark and boundary pushing they were... truly the economically depressed forefathers of gritty 1970's horror. As many of these have become public domain, they are now being reprinted and rediscovered.