Schlock horror has lost its edge, say movie buffs

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The Independent Culture

Horror films are not what they used to be, with irony taking precedence over scariness, says a film magazine.

Horror films are not what they used to be, with irony taking precedence over scariness, says a film magazine.

In a special edition of Empire, film writers were asked to list the most important horror films and the 10 scariest moments in cinema history.

But Empire's associate editor, Ian Nathan, said he and his team had trouble finding great contemporary horror movies. "They used to do better horror films than they do now. Now there's this sea of ironic movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

"There's little sign of the heirs to the great tradition of horror movies like Frankenstein and Dracula. Nor are there current examples of the truly original 'thinking' horror movies such as Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man. We were really startled by the lack of contemporary films in the great mould. The Sixth Sense, Blair Witch Project and Fight Club are probably the only exceptions."

Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, made in 1931, is picked as the best in the horror genre. Empire says: "Frankenstein is the single most important horror film ever made. Without Frankenstein, there wouldn't be a genre called the horror film, and the form would never have found its greatest star."

It said Karloff had been in real pain during filming because of "all the clobber" he had to wear. The experience turned him into a militant and he helped found the Screen Actors' Guild to save others from suffering for long hours under the sun and the burning arc-lights.

In a story about the movie The Shining, Empire tells of how the director, Stanley Kubrick, made Jack Nicholson eat cheese sandwiches, which he loathed, "to generate a sense of inner revulsion".

The top scary moments selected include the shower scene from Psycho and moments from Jaws. Other moments, such as the sudden appearance of a convict in a graveyard in David Lean's film of Great Expectations, were excluded as they did not come from horror films.

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