Where did all the horror go?

As many of you may know, I am a huge fan of movies, and in recent years I have become absolutely enamored with the Blu-Ray format — as everyone should, in my humble opinion.

As Halloween is once again racing towards us, I could not help but notice, however, the dearth of releases these days. Sure, DVD is flooded with cheap indie releases and re-releases of titles ad nauseam, but on Blu-Ray, the studios are still holding back their catalog quite severely. It appears as if barely any catalog titles are being transferred onto the high definition format and all we really get are the movies coming off their box office run or new straight-to-home video releases.

Like most people, around the Halloween time frame I love to watch a few good horror movies and as I look through the release schedules, the only horror I find is the shocking realization that nothing is coming…

I mean, seriously, if it weren’t for Blue Underground’s upcoming Blu-Ray version of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie a few days before Halloween and Lionsgate’s recent release of the Peter Jackson horror comedy Dead Alive, there is not a single horror movie in sight that is in any way intriguing or exciting.

Every year, Universal Home Entertainment refurbishes their entire horror line-up, and this year is no exception. The list of films the studio runs in promotions throughout October is almost endless – 69 titles, to be exact! Out of all these films, however, springs not a single new Blu-Ray release. Movies that are available already are re-promoted but none of the other films are making a Blu-Ray debut.

To me, as a fan of classic horror, this is painful to watch. Why don’t we get high definition versions of the monster classics like “Dracula,” Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man,” “The Mummy” and their many sequels that are once again being offered up on DVD?

Why is Halloween not an occasion to bring to the world a high definition version of Wes Craven’s hauntingly staggering “Serpent and the Rainbow” or John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness,” “They Live” and “Village of the Damned,” all of which are part of a new “John Carpenter: Master of Fear” DVD collection that just hit stores?

But Universal is not the only studio sitting on their hands. MGM Home Entertainment, for example, has yet to release John Carpenter’s “The Fog” and not to mention that they have absolutely no plans to release Roger Corman’s classic Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price in high definition.

And why Anchor Bay is not giving us any of the Hammer movies, is anyone’s guess.

It is a trend that worries me. When DVD was first launched, the studios went into complete overkill, releasing even the most mundane niche films as Special Editions with tons of extras. Now, at a time when home video is really offering theater-quality presentations, they are short-shrifting fans, by holding back way too many films. I can understand that they don’t want to go into a feeding frenzy the way they did during the DVD heydays, but leaving the entire catalog to rot in their vaults?

It kind of reminds me of the early days of DVD when the world was clamoring for George Lucas to release “Star Wars” on DVD or for Steven Spielberg to finally come to his senses and embrace the digital age — remember that? Guess what? Those guys jumped into high definition with both feet, and now the studios as a collective are slacking off.

It’s a crazy, crazy world, I tell you, and it makes me sad to see that yet another Halloween rolls around without any exciting horror releases. Dear studios, I refuse to watch kiddie-style horror remakes created by people who obviously never understood the appeal of the original movies in the first place. Like many fans of horror, I would honestly appreciate any kind of effort you would make to bring some of the film we love to Blu-Ray.


One Reply to “Where did all the horror go?”

  1. Pinbot

    I have noticed that historically you get better horror releases around Valentine’s Day, at least in the theaters. I suppose you could have a field day speculating why. I’m not going to editorialize my observation.

    What I find amazingly strange is the growth of all things Halloween except real horror movies, which are so commonly the inspiration for all the other haunted happenings. Movie studios are notoriously risk averse. Are they just afraid that Halloween releases will get lost in the shuffle? I don’t know. Every year the average spending on Halloween related things increases. You’d think they’d want to get in on that.

    I also lament the infantalization of horror films, but the kids with the money need that PG-13 rating to get in. I blame hyper-vigilant theater operators and the nanny-mothers that threaten them. Sneaking into an R-Rated movie used to be a relatively tame rite of passage. Still, Drag Me To Hell did a fine job within the confines of that rating.

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