Halloween Kills marks new high in ‘horror revival’ | Horror films
Me more than four decades after John Carpenter made his landmark slasher flick, the Halloween franchise returns to theaters this weekend for what is expected to be one of its highest-grossing installments.
The enthusiasm for Halloween Kills reflects a growing interest in horror films during the pandemic, with industry experts saying the genre has helped keep Hollywood afloat when box office reopens in the spring.
“There is a lot of expectation for this, both in the horror community and more broadly,” said Alison Peirse, associate professor of film and media at the University of Leeds. âMichael Myers is a true horror monster of the same ilk as Dracula and Frankenstein. Whatever the actual content of this movie, it will find a large audience.
The 1978 original Halloween, made and scored by Carpenter and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis, told the story of psychopathic killer Michael Myers, who escapes from a sanatorium and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield , Illinois, for murdering a slew of teenagers on Halloween night.
Made on a tight budget of $ 300,000 (Â£ 218,000), when the studios weren’t interested in horror, the film grossed over $ 70 million and spawned many tropes now associated with slasher films. , including that of the “final” girl who lives to face a killer.
It’s now a franchise that returns for a dozen sequels and remakes, with a 13th in sight. “It has already been confirmed that the next edition will be released next year, which means they had enough confidence people would show up for this one,” said Alex Osben, box office analyst at Gower Street Analytics .
The release of its prequel in 2018 by David Gordon Green – which had the second-largest opening in October in U.S. box office history – coincided with what has been called a “horror revival.” , as studios began to produce one horror after another.
According to Peirse, each generation has its cycle of horror films. In the 1980s, after Halloween, those were the original slashers. In the 90s it was prestige, big budget gothic adaptations and postmodern fears (Scream, Urban Legend). The 2000s saw the prevalence of pornographic torture (Saw), while the 2010s saw the rise of independent and diverse voices (The Babadook, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).
Today, cash-strapped studios are “remaking existing film properties for guaranteed audiences and bankable hits.” Jordan Peele’s Candyman came out last month, while reboots of The Exorcist, Resident Evil, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Scream – whose trailer was trending on Twitter this week – are all on the way.
âIf you invest Â£ 150million in making a film, you want to minimize the risk,â said David Hancock, director of film research at Omdia. “Of the top 50 films in the United States in 2019, 75% of the revenue was taken from films that are part of a franchise series.”
In general, Hancock said, horror movies don’t have the highest budgets, but they do well because they have a very loyal fan base. âIt’s very easy to market them to them. “
When theaters reopened, the big hits were A Quiet Place II, Spiral: The Book of Saw, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which earned five times its production budget. Streaming services made the most of that appetite, with Netflix releasing its Fear Street trilogy – based on RL Stine’s books – last summer and the slasher movie There’s Someone Inside Your House This this month, while the Amazon TV adaptation of I Know What You Did last summer launches Friday.
All five of the original Halloween movies also hit Netflix earlier this month – a smart strategy, according to Osben, as it would introduce a new generation to the franchise. âEspecially with the cult status that things get so quickly when they hit Netflix,â she said.
Mike Muncer, who hosts the Evolution of Horror podcast, said what we’re seeing now with streaming is similar to the spike in cheap horror movies in the ’80s due to the boom in VHS and home video. But the allure of cinema, he added, remains unique, especially for a genre that many enjoy watching in groups.
âIt’s like going to a theme park. If you were doing a roller coaster ride it wouldn’t be that much fun on your own, âhe said.
Anxious people have long shown that the genre can offer catharsis in times of turmoil. During the lockdown, one of the most successful films of the year was Host, which focuses on friends accidentally catching the attention of a demonic presence during an online shoot. And as media coverage focused on migration, the refugee horror His House – currently with a striking 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – became a hit.
Director Charlotte Colbert, whose psychological horror She Will premieres at the London Film Festival this weekend, said the genre attracts “a specific type of wandering soul who is interested in the limits or boundaries of life. reality; the edge, just beyond what is visible â.
âHorror movies, like all stories, are cathartic and help us navigate and make sense of our reality,â Colbert said. “As we were locked in and scared during the pandemic, perhaps they helped us release the pent-up adrenaline in a shared and more controllable experience.”
âEverything that has happened in the past two years is one of the reasons horror has thrived,â Muncer said. âIn the late 60s and 70s in America, when there was a lot going on in terms of civil rights, in Vietnam, in Watergate, there were a lot of horror movies that answered that. Even before the pandemic, people might look at recent years as Trump-era horror movies, movies about social anxiety or racism, like Get Out. It’s a cathartic way of being afraid – it’s almost therapeutic.