One of the key contradictions in film programming is giving the audience what it wants but the audience doesn’t know what they want until you give it to them! It is a problem that is circumnavigated by the influx of sequels and remakes that are filling multiplexes (and arthouses – Second Best Marigold Hotel!!!!!!). A sequel has a built in audience, a remake has built in brand awareness (even if that audience is crying out in indignation that they dare remake a classic like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!). In the microcosm of the horror film at the cinema, it exactly the same with remakes, reboots and sequels, and of course the old “That movie that looks exactly like that movie you liked last year!” But it is even harder for an original film to be released theatrically.
It isn’t that people aren’t making horror films it’s just that they are not getting any theatrical love. Last year only sixteen films could be regarded as major horror releases (and a few of those were pushed as comedies or action films). There are a further fourteen releases that were either small independent releases, or releases in cinemas with a very short theatrical window before they were released on home video.
Horror Releases in 2014 (UK) – 16
Paranormal Activity – The Marked Ones (wide release), Devil’s Due (wide release), I Frankenstein (wide release), Under The Skin (wide release), The Quiet Ones (wide release), Oculus (wide release), Deliver Us From Evil (wide), As Above So Below (wide release), The Guest (wide release), Life After Beth (wide release), Dracula Untold (saturation release), Annabelle (Saturation release), The Babadook (wide release), Horns (Saturation release), What We Do In The Shadows (wide release), The Pyramid (Wide release)
Small theatrical releases & ones released ahead of a quick home video release – 14
We Are What We Are, Borderlands, Haunter, The Last Days On Mars, The Strange Colour Of Your Bodies Tears, Willow Creek, Cheap Thrills, The Dirties, The Sacrament, Miss Violence, Blackwood, Wolf Cop, White Settlers, Honeymoon
While the releases on the Home video market (just physical DVDs) is crazy packed with films:
Horror Release 2014 (Home Video)– The Battery, Across The River, Apocalyptic, The Factory, Goal Of The Dead, The Unleashed, Dead Awake, SX Tape, Absentia, Iron Wolf, Darkness Descends, Mischief Night, The Bunnyman Resurrection, Vanished, Haunted Souls, Return To Nukem High Vol 1, Washington Snipers, Venom, The Lodge, In The Spider’s Web, Stage Fright, A Voodoo Posession, Open Grave, Dario Argento’s Dracula, Devil’s Tower, Patrick: Evil Awakens, Posessed By Evil, Ghostmaker, Raven’s Cabin, The Cabin, Wolf Creek 2, Werewolf Rising, Alien Abduction, Are You There?, Haunting of Cellblock 11, Abominable, Ghostmaker, Nightmares, and countless others…..
These here are all straight DVD releases, add the theatricals to this and it is a pretty healthy looking horror scene.
But at cinemas if you delve in to those figures: At QUAD and Fright Club, we have screened Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek, The Dirties, Under The Skin, The Babadook, What We Do In The Shadows and The Strange Colour Of Your Bodies Tears.
Willow Creek was released in cinemas on Fri 2nd May and was released on DVD on the 26th May. We screened the film 23rd & 24th May, just ahead of its DVD release. Both Under The Skin and TSCOYBT were given standard arthouse releases, promoting themselves as films that have elements of horror but are not horror. While The Dirties was a small release with seemingly contradictory advertisements, seeming not able to settle on whether they were telling people it was a horror or a comedy. The Babadook was the big critical hit last year while What We Do In The Shadows was more of a comedy with horror trappings.
At Fright Club last year we have screened LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE, CAT PEOPLE (1982), WILLOW CREEK, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 3d, THEY LIVE, ROADGAMES, NEKROMANTIK, WHITE SETTLERS, DEVIL’S TOWER, THE BABADOOK, THE BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, PSYCHO BEACH PARTY, HELLRAISER, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, TORSO, DON’T LOOK NOW, THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE and CHRISTMAS EVIL . An eclectic line up if I do say so myself. But it is predominantly horror films that would have played cinemas upon release returning to their natural home, the big screen. Only Willow Creek, Wolf Cop, The Babadook, Devil’s Tower and White Settlers are 2014 releases.
Does it matter where you see a horror film? I understand the reasons that small distributors have decided to go for one release with the film’s theatrical followed quickly by the home video. However I feel that as an industry it has severely eroded the audiences’ willingness to watch horror in cinema screens. I want to see horror with an audience. I truly believe that, like comedy, horror works best in a cinema and with an audience.
So we are going all in with IT FOLLOWS in February 2015 giving people a two week run to come and see some horror on the big screen, in addition to our regular Fright Club screenings. Hope to see you at the movies!