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Satanic Movies Are Next on the Revolving Wheel of Horror Trends

by Warren Cantrell on February 16, 2012

in Blogs

Satan movies are on the way! Truth on the Loose is a new column by Warren Cantrell here at Scene-Stealers where he spreads his brand of cinematic truth. Today he explores what he believes to be the next trend in horror movies.

Rosemarys-baby-1968-original-posterI recently discussed a cinematic postulate with my good friend and associate Eric Melin, for it involved a question grounded in the industry’s horror genre. I mentioned that if one were smart enough (I readily admit that I am not), then they could probably figure out the algorithm that predicts cinema’s next horror push, for it clearly follows a pattern where all paths lead to Satan movies.

All the monsters in Hollywood’s stable come in and out of the cinemas like they’re punching timecards.  Every once in a while, a new member gets in, if only on a trial basis, but this is rare. (The shaky-cam films of the mid-90s are still on probation, and have been paired up with the ‘Abductor/Lost’ genre until granted full clearance.)

The zombies got into the club in the late 60s, and proved durable enough to see their spot on the genre wheel come back around in the mid-2000s. And while industry staples like the Mummy and Frankenstein have brief flirtations with public interest from time to time, their singular nature as characters don’t allow for much of an expansion on their entry into the genre.  [They act as wild cards to this cinematic formula, but see regular, paced appearances nonetheless.]

the-exorcist-1973-movie-posterBut one has to be patient. You see, the zombies had a good fallow period, some 35 or so years, which allowed for a powerful early-2000s resurgence.  But if one tries to haul one of these staples out of the garage too early, the results can be catastrophic. Even a filmmaker as skilled and seasoned as Coppola couldn’t get the jump on the vampire genre in the early 1990s, for that was the ‘Psycho’ period in Hollywood, when the period’s staple villain was some kind of deranged lunatic blood-fiend.

This ‘Psycho’ shift in the genre came about because the ‘Ghost-Stalker’ brand had begun to fail, and while audiences still wanted to see people getting sliced up, they wanted more realistic, non-supernatural villains than what the Freddys and your Jasons provided. While these guys were successful in the industry for a period between the late 70s to the early 80s, like all stable residents, they needed to head out to pasture after their legs were gone.

But luckily for hack-and-slash addicts, in Hollywood they don’t shoot their horses, they just put them out to stud and wait for their progeny to spawn a new industry 30 to 40 years down the road.  As far as I can tell, over the last fifty years, the patterns for the industry have fallen roughly thus:

asylum-of-satan-original-poster-19751960 – 64: Psycho Killer (Psycho – ’60, Homicidal – ’61, Cape Fear – ’62, Pressure Point – ’62,  The Strangler – ’64)

1965 – 67: Abduction/Lost/Kidnapping (The Collector – ’65, Bunny Lake Is Missing – ’65, Harper – ’66, The Professionals – ’66)

1968: Zombies (Night of the Living Dead – ’68)

1969 – 73: Vampires (Count Dracula – ’70, The Vampire Lovers – ’70, The Omega Man – ’71, Dracula A.D. 1972 – ’72, Blacula – ’72, The Satanic Rites of Dracula – ’73)

1972 – 76: Devil and Satan (Rosemary’s Baby – ’68, The Asylum of Satan – ’72, The Exorcist – ’73, The Omen – ’76)

1974 – 79: Disaster Epic (The Towering Inferno – ’74, Earthquake – ’74, Airport 1975 – ’74, Airport ’77 – ’77, Rollercoaster – ’77, Avalanche – ’78, Meteor – ’79)

1977 – 80: Aliens/Space (Close Encounters of the Third Kind – ’77, Star Wars – ‘77, Alien – ‘79, Star Trek the Motion Picture – ’79, The Empire Strikes Back – ’80)

the-omen-1976-original-poster1978 – 86: Stalker-Killer (Halloween – franchise began in ’78, Friday the 13th – franchise began in ‘80, A Nightmare on Elm Street – franchise began in ‘84)

1987 – 96: Psycho-Killer (Blue Velvet – ’86, Fatal Attraction – ’87, Misery – ’90, The Silence of the Lambs – ’91, Copycat – ’95, Scream – ’96)

1996 – 01: Abduction/Lost/Kidnapping/Shaky-Cam. Reality – (Fargo – ’96, Breakdown – ’97, Kiss the Girls – ’97, The Blair Witch Project – ’99, Along Came a Spider – ‘01)

2002 – 07: Zombies (Resident Evil – ‘02, 28 Days Later – ‘02, Dawn of the Dead – ’04, Shaun of the Dead  – ’04, Land of the Dead, – ’05, 28 Weeks Later – ‘07)

2007 – 11: Vampire/Werewolf (30 Days of Night – ’07, Twilight – ’08, Eclipse – ’09, New Moon – ’10, The Wolfman – ’10, Fright Night – ’11)

2012 – ??: Devil and Satan Movies!

As you probably noticed, things move somewhat cyclically, and while there is some genre-overlap from time to time, the patterns are there for all to see. If it is not one’s time to come into play, then, well, sucks to be you. For example, though there seemed to be some hope in the mid-90s that the ‘Alien’ slot would land in the public’s favor once again, the commercially successful Independence Day couldn’t mask the realities of the situation — the fact that aliens couldn’t hold an entire horror film together when its time had not yet returned. (See the failures of The Arrival and Event Horizon for proof on that.)

No, if you are one of those Hollywood producers, you’d be wise to follow the formula — as you always do, you spineless curs.

Looking at the patterns just over the last half century, it’s clear that Satan movies and cases of demonic possession are due for a mighty resurgence, since they are up right after vampires in the industry’s horror rolodex.

So bust out your goat’s blood and alter, because we got demons a’comin’!  The recent release of The Devil Inside, along with this year’s upcoming devil-inspired offerings like House of Dust and Welcome To Purgatory prove that the ball is already rolling. Are you ready for the resurgence of the Satanic Panic?

“Obvious Child” is the debut novel of Warren Cantrell, a film and music critic based out of Seattle, Washington. Mr. Cantrell has covered the Sundance and Seattle International Film Festivals, and provides regular dispatches for Scene-Stealers and The Playlist. Warren holds a B.A. and M.A. in History, and his hobbies include bourbon drinking, novel writing, and full-contact kickboxing.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Eric February 18, 2012 at 12:40 am

You came real close to losing all credibility when you included Twilight in an article about Horror films.


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