“F*ck You” – An Open Letter To The Horror Community

by on November 19, 2012  •  In Articles

Dear Horror Community,

For better or worse, despite certain details, we are cut from the same cloth. Whether our favorite flavor is Cult, Horror, Exploitation or any number of sub-genres, we all somehow fit into this strange collective widely referred to as “The Horror Community”.

Nostalgia binds most of us. An appreciation of certain films that often don’t hold up aesthetically compared to the gloss of 21st Century cinema, but have a “spirit” that modern-day mainstream Hollywood can never capture. And while we disagree on the details (like which are classics vs. which are shit), we honor the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity it took to bring us films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, the first “Evil Dead”, and so on. We appreciate this spirit *so much* that we can get excited for a re-telling of an old story, just for the opportunity to see *some* incarnation of our favorite characters on the silver screen once again.

Remakes aren’t all bad, nor are pointless sequels. We crave *more* of our favorite characters, so we get more. And we gladly pay big corporate executives to repackage old stories that tickle our nostalgic center. Sometimes we enjoy the experience and sometimes we hate it, but again… It just feels good to have Freddy Krueger in the mainstream public consciousness again. Even if it isn’t our beloved Robert Englund, it’s an opportunity to have the excitement of a new Nightmare On Elm Street in multiplexes. Take that, mainstream America!

I have no problem with any of that. At all.

Here comes the big “But”…

The problem I have is that the independent genre scene: The place where the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Evil Dead” films came from is being grossly neglected today. Hideously. And I mean *by us*, not Mainstream audiences.

I am part of a Horror Community that will spend their entire paycheck on Friday the 13th memorabilia (which is cool for its nostalgia, and supports a 30-year-old corporate conglomerate movie franchise), but will wait three weeks after its release to pick up a film like “Father’s Day” if they ever attempt to pay for it at all (an example I choose because of the ungodly amount of praise it got from the press and audiences alike).

I ask, I’m nosey, and let me tell you: Indie genre films don’t sell for dick. Not even the really, really good ones.

Love it or hate it, Human Centipede probably gets more mainstream lip service than any indie genre film of its kind. Everything that could possibly go right for an independent genre film happened for that movie: Catchy title, powerful distributor, joke references on mainstream shows, and a presence in which almost every American with a TV or internet connection knows that there is a movie called “Human Centipede”. Imagine how many MORE casual viewers picked that title up from recognition / curiosity vs. the most popular indie genre film behind it. The gap is undoubtedly massive.

Here’s the kicker: Since it has been released, Human Centipede has not even made $3 million over the course of its life. That sounds big to you and I, but that is the fucking CEILING! That is the top of the mountain. At best, in today’s market, an independent genre film *could make* in the range of 1/6 of the budget of a low-end Hollywood movie (the “low budget” Hollywood film, DRIVE cost $13 million to make). And that is only if *everything* goes right for you.

Top of the mountain

The only other film with half a hope of getting *a fraction* of that hype currently in the scene is the Soska Sisters’ “American Mary”, which in all honesty, the press parade focuses way more on the filmmakers than their films at this point in their careers. Note that this is not a slam on the Soskas, I’m just saying that they are more famous than their films are at this moment, which I don’t think is very debatable.

By the way, the limited theatrical run of “Human Centipede 2″ grossed just over $120,000. Yep. Thousand. Obviously, this is a “limited” theatrical run, but as sparse as the audience is for these movies, it would be financially inept to push for anything more. Whether you like this one or not, that’s a scary number given its marquee value at the time.

Wanna know how much the “Fright Night” remake made? $18 million, just in theaters.

Nightmare on Elm Street remake? $63 million, just in fucking American theaters.

Again, mainstream audiences play a role, but NO FUCKING WAY do these Hollywood horror remakes go that far without a huge percentage of “The Horror Community” supporting them. “The Horror Community” IS the target audience for these films. Only a fraction of mainstream audiences that aren’t horror nuts even see horror films in theaters. There is no way to collect the data, but you know as well as I do, the bulk of those figures, *particularly* the NOES remake, had way more to do with legitimate horror fans showing up than the average film goer.

And I stress again: I don’t have a problem with anyone supporting Hollywood’s mission to make as much money as it can off of 30 year-old stories that everyone already knows. Have a blast!

Thank you for your patronage.

My issue is that amidst all this nostalgic appreciation, we are neglecting *the future*! No matter how committed of an artist you are, you have to make money in a $5 per gallon of gas world. If spending anywhere from 3 months to 3 years on a film will never be able to pay you any money (and typically COST you shit tons of money), then it eventually becomes impossible to make them. People have bills, cars, kids, mortgages, and all this other shit in-between that costs money. And as much as you appreciate their films, your appreciation is not paying their bills.

While a proficient independent film producer would likely never be pocketing millions on a single film or even five films combined, there has to be a middle-ground where he or she can make enough to say “I have a job. I am a filmmaker.” Money won’t be steady, just like any other self-employment arrangement, but they can concentrate on creating the next “Leatherface”, “Ash”, “Freddy”, etc. vs. concentrating on a bullshit day job they are overqualified for.

This would benefit audiences exponentially. Not only would the quality of independent genre films improve dramatically across the board, but Indies don’t have to go through all the bureaucratic nonsense that Hollywood does. Mainstream cinema has *so many* constraints preventing it from getting anywhere near certain expressions of speech, violence, and sexuality, while independents have ZERO boundaries. Of course, 90% of independents choose not to even consider this and create films that bind themselves to this imaginary box anyway, but that is a rant for another occasion.

“Come at me, bro!”

I’m not asking you to buy less Hollywood. I’m telling you that we *need* to buy more Independent. At least, if there is any independent stuff that you love or have ever loved. If one of the two have to suffer out of your budget, the independents need it infinitely worse than Hollywood does. We are the reason there is not another Astron-6 feature in production, we are the reason the “Frankenstein Created Bikers” (sequel to “Dear God No!”) is not rolling this very minute. There’s not enough money there for investors to get involved, and we are where the money comes from. We, as an audience, as a horror community are the *root* of the problem.

We don’t gush over “Dear God No!” nearly as much as we do over a 2 minute teaser for a god damn Evil Dead remake. Or “Father’s Day”, or the HC films, or “Deadgirl”, or “American Mary”, or name your favorite fucking indie genre film from the last five years, and you probably didn’t publicly masturbate to it half as much as you did your favorite upcoming mainstream Hollywood flick.

You may not like the independent films I cited in this article, and that’s totally fair. I didn’t like all the indies I cited, either. But each one of them has taken a uniquely different approach to their stories that would have NEVER come from mainstream Hollywood. You may not like this crop, but what are we going to cheat ourselves out of in the future, by not making a point to especially nurture great independent genre flicks when they come along?

It is WAY too passive in this day and age to simply post “Go see ‘Durper Durp’, a great movie made by great people.” on Twitter and Facebook, and call that support. BUY their shit, WEAR their apparel, be a god damn FANATIC, because accomplishing a flawed, but awesome film on less than $100k will always be more impressive and heroic than a mediocre Hollywood flick that LITERALLY cost more than 200x that to produce.

Think about how fucking mindblowing that math is before you go.

P.S. As tempting as it is to blame a flawed distribution model, the fault still lies with us. While shitty distro deals play their part, they only exist because there isn’t a strong enough market for these films to negotiate with any leverage. Trust me, as mean and evil as you think they are, most of the distros are struggling to survive too. Almost none survive solely on the release of new independent genre films. They are surviving by putting out the latest re-packaged “Ultimate Edition” Blu-Ray of the movie you’ve already seen 6,000 times. Which you are infinitely more likely to buy than a cool looking indie that you’ve never heard of.

david

Sylvester Stallone

I'm Sylvester Stallone. I was in the hit film "Tango & Cash" opposite Robert Z'Dar.
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  • PR Guy

    I support indie horror films.  I buy them on Amazon.com and learn of their existence through Fangoria Magazine and select websites.  I have tons of indie horror in my collection.  Some of them are terrible…but I enjoy watching the “effort” that goes into each production.  I grew up with vintage horror…from “Frankenstein” to “Friday the 13th”…but indie films are a welcome surprise and wonderful entertainment simply because I didn’t buy the film because of hype…I buy them out of curiosity. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5XK3URHAVGIDG6VI7STU6KYJAM Michael

      Thing is… I wonder how many people buy out of curiosity anymore? Hell… sometimes I can’t even bring myself to watch a movie streaming on netflix just out of knowing it’s indie and the cover looks cool… and that isn’t costing me any more money than my regular subscription price. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1214611088 Kermet Merl Key

        But it’s costing you time. Time is also a resource. You don’t spend any more money to watch American Horror Story than you do to watch The Daily Show – they’re both on capable, but your time in that seat turns into ad revenue for those programs. You skip watching some indie films because you’ve been burnt by a lot of them – poor sound or poor acting or poor writing or poor lighting or poor directing – or all of the above. It’s the same reason you avoid certain studio films and filmmakers as well. So how is it that the fan is the root problem? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/zack.gabbert.1 Zack Gabbert

    On point as always.

  • John C Keefer

    I think it has more to do with the models for distribution changing than it does a fan base not showing up to support product.  Even a lousy, little seen, horror-gem from the 70′s was shown in theaters, was shot on film, but somehow managed to have a life beyond the Drive-In.  That’s not really something you can manufacture, it’s just an odd phenomena.  Film also has a built in nostalgia value now, since most stuff that’s Indie is shot digitally and just doesn’t have the psychic weight of something shot on 16mm from 30 years ago.  The cream will rise and the stuff that can make that connection to its intended audience still has the space to do that, especially with digital distro and downloads and VOD and whatnot.  But it’s all being migrated to the realm of content, soon there will be no distinctions made between film, TV, books, music or any other form of expression.  It will all be content.  My advice is to accept it and move forward.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5XK3URHAVGIDG6VI7STU6KYJAM Michael

      I agree… plus, the sheer numbers now-days are unbelievable. I can go through Netflix and see a ton of horror movies I’ve never heard of. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff?

      • http://www.facebook.com/scanfieldfilms Sean Canfield

        That is one big problem indeed.  How can we expect people to watch 100 movies to find 2 good ones?  Even with press (such as through sites like this, B-D, DC, STYD, etc) only the hardcore fans read the praise.  It’s not like Entertainment Weekly is singing the praises of ‘Inside’.  Even films that, for whatever reason (outrageous title, name actor, etc) break through to the mainstream (Hobo with a Shotgun is a minor example of this), still only a tiny amount of the dollars spent on entertainment make it through to the movies.  My mom’s friend, who likes a lot of movies, not typically horror, ordered Hobo OnDemand because of the title.  However, she’s in no position to hear about ‘Inside’, even if it’s something she may like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Rudzinski/503124258 Steve Rudzinski

    As an independent horror director, thanks!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5XK3URHAVGIDG6VI7STU6KYJAM Michael

    I think you’re partly right about this… but there are two things imo that I thought of as a counterargument while I read this article.

    We’re always claiming that Independent film is the savior of all horror! We cry to the heavens stating that Hollywood is boring and formulaic and Indie films are so great… Well, that’s only partly true. For every Father’s Day, there are hundreds of unimaginative Independent films. Sometimes, the only difference between the vision or restraints of the Hollywood director and the vision of the Indie director is that the Hollywood director can at least make his movie look good. You talk about how we need to strengthen the Indy scene so that the films will become stronger… well… if by stronger you mean in numbers… you might be right because there are so many dudes with their DSLR’s that are out there with no writing experience, no directing experience, making dumb shit that we all throw under the Indy label with no way to know how it stacks up to Indy stalwarts like Father’s Day without having to suffer through it. I’ll be honest… I’ve suffered through enough shitty Independent films to get a real sour taste in my mouth and a suspicious eye.

    Also, we have to remember that movies like Father’s Day are made for a niche audience. Making a film with those themes are automatically going to narrow the audience. Let’s put it this way… When Father’s Day played at the Art-house in my town, I didn’t even think about taking my wife because of the content. However, we both went to see Sinister in theaters. Sinister, though pretty scary imo, still can appeal to a wide audience (child killing and all). Sometimes that Indy niche is too narrow for it even to encompass most horror fans. 

    I only use Father’s Day as my example in this because it’s one you obviously like, and I love, but you could stick any title in there. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/couchcutter Couch Cutter

      I don’t disagree with anything you are saying, but this article is making the point that “THE MOST PROFITABLE”, marketable, and generally best indie genre films are still hideously neglected by us as a community.

      I hate A LOT of indie films, and I don’t buy anything solely for the indie status. But the fact is, I know the numbers on Father’s Day, and they are incredibly sad when you look at the amount of press it got. Even for an extreme niche film. I’m not exaggerating. 

      And if those guys or some of the other filmmakers are having trouble making money on THEIR movies, through physical copy and merch sales combined, then something is seriously wrong with our priorities as far as showing our appreciation of these rare and awesome gems when they do come around

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5XK3URHAVGIDG6VI7STU6KYJAM Michael

        I understand your point, and I agree with it… I don’t know the numbers for Father’s Day, but if they’re as bad as you say, it’s a crime. 

        I also think it’s hard to sift through the load of indie horror movies to determine which are good, and which aren’t. Much of the advertising looks similar to me… at least similar enough that it’s hard to know the Father’s Days from the whateverthehell shitty indie movie I’ve never heard of. It’s almost a fluke that I heard of and got a hold of Adam about Father’s Day and he let me watch his movie for our show (That’s right… just like every other motherfucker in the horror community I run a podcast/vidcast)… And what may be a gem in your eyes… may rub someone else the wrong way because of the niche.

        However, after all I’ve said above… it’s all excuses. I feel like you’re right in that we, as horror fans, need to be more vigilant in rooting out the shit and letting the cream rise to the top. Plus, I’ve made some claims above that are based solely on my experience and perspective that may, or may not, reflect the way it works in real life. I guess I’m just saying that it doesn’t surprise me that this kind of crap is going on. It’s a lot of hard work and research for me to find the really good stuff outside of the established horror works… and there’s only so much time in a day. Also… I wonder if EVERYONE who watched and enjoyed Father’s Day purchased the DVD, what the numbers would look like. I bet that it still wouldn’t rival the big hollywood flicks (for reasons I’ve mentioned in this comment and the last)… That’s just life… However, it would probably be enough to get these guys enough cash to make another film… which would be awesome.

        Sorry I’ve been so long-winded… ahahah

      • http://twitter.com/imBadRonald barry m

        I’m having a lot of trouble grasping the discussion here. Father’s Day (and its filmmakers) suffer from not enough support/earnings, so it’s a failure. But Paranormal Activity is a no-count, because it found a way to make money?

        Yeah, I get the argument that PA had the big money marketing behind them — but what of FD found marketing money, too, and became a box office success? 

        • couchcutter

          Paranormal Activity found success THROUGH HOLLYWOOD’S MACHINE. Not through the support of an avid horror community. It is a Hollywood success story.

    • NRNS

      What about Parnormal Activity? Part 1 cost about $15,000 to make and grossed millions. Not to mention the subsequent 3 films. If a film is good, people don’t care if it’s an indie film, a genre film or whatever. This article is flawed. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/Gratwickfilms Kris Hulbert

        Paranormal Activity doesn’t count.  It was given a stamp of approval by Paramount and then a brilliant and expensive marketing campaign, where a one minute trailer with 45 seconds of audience reactions, sold the audience back to itself. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1214611088 Kermet Merl Key

          Funny, I was aware of that film long before Paramount got involved…like when it was at Screamfest. Why did Paramount picket it up over the other films at Screamfest that year? Why hasn’t Paramount given other independent horror films their stamp of approval?

          • Bottomofthebarrel

            It was actually Dreamworks who picked it up with the intention to do a big budget remake; then the company got bought by Paramount though a big mess of money issues and some projects got delayed. When Paramount finally got around to looking at all these Dreamworks projects, they looked at PA and saw a film they could sell, but decided on an experiment, basically creating an OnDemand service via social media, which was f’n brilliant, and helped with the film’s success.  I understand couchcutter’s argument above that it was a different beast and not really the same thing as an indie film trying to sell a product.

        • http://twitter.com/imBadRonald barry m

          It most definitely counts. PA was independently made, outside the mainstream realm, and picked up a great deal of buzz on the festival circuit. That buzz helped draw Paramount to it.

          • couchcutter

            No it doesn’t count in the context of this article. This article is referring to indie films that can’t exist in the Hollywood realm. Making a “safe” indie that gets picked up by Hollywood is not an indie success story:

            Paramount PAID $350,000… for that film at Sundance

            Paramont MADE $198,000,000 worldwide.

            That is a HOLLYWOOD success story in context of what I am writing about. The producers say 350k of that money, while the conglomerate machine made an incredible profit.

          • WTF!?

            I know the producers and trust me, they got rich off of PA. 

            Your argument is broken. Basically you’re saying if a movie is good enough to succeed, it doesn’t count.

            WTF!?

          • couchcutter

            I assure you, you misunderstand the argument:

            IF YOUR GOAL is to get into the Hollywood system, then yes, it is a success story.

            But this article is not talking about that AT ALL. This article is about creating a lucrative independent filmmaking environment OUTSIDE of the mainstream Hollywood machine.

            Without Paramount, P.A. wouldn’t have been what it was. I don’t see how that is debatable.

            I also think that it’s a shame that this is the case.

            I really don’t understand what’s confusing you here, and if you look around, you are in the minority as far as your confusion. I really think I’ve explained this in as many ways as I could.

            But again:
            Good for Paranormal Activity for getting a major conglomerate distributor.

            This article is not about, nor is it a map for independents to get acquired by a major, corporate congolmerate, NON-INDEPENDENT distribution company.

            So in the scope of this article, it doesn’t fit.

            Sorry for the misunderstanding.

          • Bottomofthebarrel

            I agree with couchcutter; this release was a different beast.  It was an indie film that got picked up by a studio withe the intention to do a big budget remake, but that got put on hold and the film was put in the vault, then pulled out and Paramount saw a film they could sell, and experimented with a gimmick where the film was offered OnDemand via social media.  It was f’n brilliant and helped with the film’s massive success. But that was an indie film with big studio money supporting it.  Other indie films don’t have that kind of support and rely on their own limited funds and twitter/facebook feeds to generate word of mouth, which is much tougher to do.

  • Felix Vasquez

    Dear God No! was mediocre, HC 1 and 2 were trash, and Father’s Day was unwatchable. May I suggest actually entertaining horror films like The Sleeper, and Frat House Massacre?

    And to quote 28 Days Later, it’s not all f***ed. Paranormal Activity began life as a small indie looking for any distributor, and became a smash hit. Saw began life as an indie and became a smash hit. Blair Witch was an indie and became a mainstream success. There have been many indie success stories.

    • http://www.facebook.com/couchcutter Couch Cutter

      As I said in the article, it’s immaterial if you hated every indie I cited. If you ever liked any indie, the facts still should raise concern.

      SAW cost $1.2 MILLION dollars to make. In the context of this article, it’s a Hollywood film.

      The PA story is convoluted. They hit the fest circuit, were picked up by PARAMOUNT, the film was altered, the ending changed most notably, and PARAMOUNT actually ran that “grassroots” campaign on radio stations, etc.

      All that happened there was an indie that got major distribution had a limited theatrical run with a good marketing campaign that exploded into way more success than they anticipated. But that was the work of corporate conglomerates selling something as way more grassroots than it actually was and energizing a mainstream audience with it.

      I’ll give you Blair Witch, but it also came out 14 years ago.

      But you’re right. It’s not fucked. If people throw money at the indies they like, all will be good. The problem right now is that even the people that enjoy these movies, that LOVE these flicks, are not doing enough to provide a future market for more of them.

      • I Don’t Entirely Agree

        “SAW cost $1.2 MILLION dollars to make. In the context of this article, it’s a Hollywood film.”

        Why?

        Unless by INDIE you mean AMATEUR. 

        Because if you actually want people to pay money to see your movie, why shouldn’t you have a business plan where raising $1.2 isn’t THAT hard (especially if you happen to live in a country with rebates and government subsidies)?

        There are a LOT of very indie movies made for $1-3 million that never come close to recouping their money. 

        Distribution is all about finding an audience. If movies have the potential for BROAD public appeal, then the folks at Paramount or any other studio will be climbing over each other to release. It doesn’t mean the filmmakers weren’t indie…but if the content is too niche of course it is not going to get a wide release.

        Dont confuse GOOD with PUBLIC APPEAL…a lot of brilliant art films can cost over $10 million and only do $500k in business. That is a huge loss (though the are often financed through pre-sales so the net loss is not as bad as the math would seem).

        There is nothing wrong with making a GOOD NICHE movie. But be real about it. Don’t expect to make a fortune off it. And don’t be mad at the audience or distributors because you sold your car to make it. You had your own reasons for making it…and like any business plan you have to assume there will be some hots and some misses in the longterm arc of your career. Hopefully after a few films you can buy a new car to replace the old one you had to sell the first time around.

        No one is entitled to an audience. But there is no shame in making a movie for $20k and selling it online for $5. It is easier than ever to actually make a decent looking movie…but because of that the market is flooded. It is both frustrating and deeply empowering at the same time.

        Making movies ain’t for the faint of heart,

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Rudzinski/503124258 Steve Rudzinski

           Just because it doesn’t cost a million bucks doesn’t mean it’s amateur.  And no, it’s NOT “really easy” to raise a million dollars to make a film.  Jesus, it’s not even easy to raise $100,000 for a film, regardless of how awesome your business plan is.

          And your description of studios climbing over each other for a film is hardly how distribution works.

          • I Don’t Entirely Agree

            I never said it was really easy, I said it was not “THAT hard”. And seeing as tens of thousands of movies are made each year in that price range I would argue that tens of thousands of other producers would agree.

            I only brought up amateur in reference to author claiming that movies like PA or SAW aren’t indie. They most definitely are. So if you are excluding movies like that then what movies is he referring to?

            Only indies made for $20K? (which even if they good are going to be by definition, made by amateurs as opposed to professionals)

          • I Don’t Entirely Agree

            Or if you object to amateur, how about Underground as a genre? If that is the movement the author is referring, then fine. 

            But underground is a counter-culture and its success shouldn’t be defined by mainstream commercial success. It never has.

            But confusing Underground and Indie is a mistake. A lot of indies have found commercial success.

          • Secret

             I agree, tons of movies are made a year that cost anywhere from 1-3 million. They don’t all recoup their money, so why would the underground market be any better?

    • felix vasquez is a mongoloid

      Jesus christ, you’re fucking retarded. The Sleeper? Frat House Massacre? You’re clearly involved with one of those pieces of shit, because nobody would suggest that shit over DGN or Father’s Day. FHM and especially The Sleeper elt like they were made by high school students who found their dad’s camera.

  • Corpse

    just keep spreading the word about good indies so i can buy them, fathers day ruled and is a crazy inspiration, its depressing to know they are not currently working on anything, im always checking in on a release date for manborg

  • Ironhawk86

    You’re preaching to choir man. I tend to avoid remakes like the plague. Only one I’ve seen in the past decade or so was THE THING (2011) and that made me want to break the TV.

    • couchcutter

      I don’t mind the fact that remakes exist. There is obviously a huge market for it, so people *do* want it. I just would like to see the indie side get *a little* more love from the community that appreciates the creative spirit.

  • Waltererivero

    if u want check out our movie indie sci fi flick from argentina ull be very suprized how much money we put into it!!! if u have passion and love for a movie anything is possible!! its a 5 part movie made that way for lack of backing !!! check us out!! https://www.facebook.com/DAEMONIUMSAGA

    • Waltererivero

      this our trailer for chapter too coming out on youtube DEC 7th   the 1st one can also be seen online just look up Daemonium http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRlPuQI5sqM

  • http://www.facebook.com/scanfieldfilms Sean Canfield

    The real problem is, the real “horror community”, (aka the people that go to conventions, see Hobo With a Shotgun in theaters and buy the Blu Ray of A Horrible Way to Die) are a very small amount of people.  The $18 million made by the Fright Night remake is MOSTLY teenagers and mainstream audiences.  There are no millions of hardcore fans sitting at home, not spending money on ‘Father’s Day’, there are just a handful of mainstream fans that take a chance on ‘Father’s Day’.  While these few thousand may be very hardcore and very vocal online, the numbers are not that great.  As an independent producer myself, with my first film finishing up  right now, I realize that to try to turn a profit on our very cheap film, I need a section of the mainstream to check out my film, because even if every hardcore horror fan in the nation buys my film, it will barely make its measly budget back.  We are counting on mainstream cinemagoers to check us out on Amazon, Netflix, etc to make even a dime, which we don’t expect to do, because we are realistic.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gratwickfilms Kris Hulbert

    Than

  • Christine

    As someone who creates something out of love, and a passion for film, and makes absolutely no money (see also: hemorrhages money) from it, I thank you for this post.

    ps: the site looks awesome btw.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dianaterranova Diana Terranova

    Well David Anthony some horror films do sell for dick.
    Maybe not a NBA sized cock, but they do yield a 
    nice thick one in regards to profit vs initial investment.  
    Case in point, my friends Roger Corman
    and The Asylum. These companies get it. They know at the end of a long
    day most people just want to smoke a blunt, eat pizza and forget
    about their shitty day at work with some fine ass titties, a few
    zombies and KNB /VGP/ MEL style blood n gore in their face.
    Hugs, Diana Terranova

    • couchcutter

      With all due respect, Diana, The Asylum depends on HOLLYWOOD films to be a truly successful company. Their business model is well documented.

      As far as Corman, he produces a lot of stuff for Syfy, which is not an independent organization, and he is a household name in the genre.

      Your points are valid, but they really don’t apply to the types of films I’m talking about here: New, original independent genre films that survive on their own merit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/horrornva Derek Young

    thank you u r right

  • http://www.facebook.com/horrornva Derek Young

    As an indie filmmaker who has traveled to cons, slept in my car and starved just to promote my work along side the mainstream actors THANK YOU! BTW since you worte this go look at my next film idea and then look at how much it’s raised on indie gogo and whos attached to it and you’ll see this is 100% right http://www.indiegogo.com/JosietheMovie

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1214611088 Kermet Merl Key

    There is a reason why independent horror filmmakers can experiment and make the type of films that Hollywood can’t – they don’t have the millions of dollars from investors. They don’t have the pressure of making a film that is meant to recoup large sums of money. They get to experiment because they don’t know who will or will not want to see their movie. They can either have the freedom that comes from a lack of funding, or they can have the restriction that comes with large investments. Either way, the fan is not the root of the problem. The root is the quality of the narrative. Some of the titles you listed above alone tell me what type of film they are and that there was far more time, money, and effort spent on getting a gorey effect than a well crafted script. And anyone who knows anything about independent filmmaking knows that that script, the foundation for the film, the blueprint, is the last thing most horror filmmakers pay any regard. Think about that? Independent horror filmmakers do not have a bunch of money dictating their production schedule so why rush into a production off a first draft of a screenplay? You fling something against the wall to see if it sticks then you should probably consider what it is you’re flinging. 

  • I Dont Entirely Agree

    As the director of an upcoming “Hollywood” horror movie, I hear the sentiment, but your math is wrong. Some of the biggest horror hits in the last 10 years were indies that got picked up and (thankfully) blew Human Centipede out of the water.

    Paranormal Activity (made for $15k grossed of $200 MIllion)
    Blair Witch Project (made for $60k and grossed over $240 million)
    The Last Exorcism (made for $1.8 Million grossed over $75 million)
    The Devil Inside (made for $1 million grossed over $100 million)
    Insidious (made for $1.5million grossed over $50 million)
    Saw (made for $1.2 million grossed over $100 million)

    All of these films are relatively small independents. But they got picked up and made gazillions of dollars. They are now becoming a new generation’s Nightmare on Elm Street…but they were made by independent directors

    So in fairness, when you refer to the ceiling, refer to PA (because it made over 10,000% of its budget in theatres alone). 

    That said…those kind of success stories are few and far between. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1214611088 Kermet Merl Key

    There is a reason why independent horror filmmakers can experiment and make the type of films that Hollywood can’t – they don’t have the millions of dollars from investors. They don’t have the pressure of making a film that is meant to recoup large sums of money. They get to experiment because they don’t know who will or will not want to see their movie. They can either have the freedom that comes from a lack of funding, or they can have the restriction that comes with large investments. Either way, the fan is not the root of the problem. The root is the quality of the narrative. Some of the titles you listed above alone tell me what type of film they are and that there was far more time, money, and effort spent on getting a gorey effect than a well crafted script. And anyone who knows anything about independent filmmaking knows that that script, the foundation for the film, the blueprint, is the last thing most horror filmmakers pay any regard. Think about that? Independent horror filmmakers do not have a bunch of money dictating their production schedule so why rush into a production off a first draft of a screenplay? You fling something against the wall to see if it sticks then you should probably consider what it is you’re flinging.

  • couchcutter

    Hey everyone, I’m going to disappear from the comments for a while because I will be answering the bulk of your questions in a follow-up article.

    Thanks, everyone!

  • Vince Cornelius

    Already know of what you speak. So called “Horrorhounds” have that new LE of The Evil Dead and Halloween but have never even viewed The Ackermonster Chronicles,Found. or Chillerama. Even older genre films like Jennifer,Screams of a Winter Night,Terror at Red Wolf Inn,Rush Week or The Prey don’t even get mentioned anymore be because all the press goes to the new remake or big budget fuzzy docu style nonsense Hollywood can generate into a “movie”. Films like Let The Right One In or Found. are proof you can make something worth seeing but you’ll really have to dig for it. Otherwise you are going to have step back in time to the grindhouse/drive in era for your true horror goodies and start buying up on whatever Code Red,Scream Factory and Synapse titles you can find. Stuff like Night of the Demon,Dorm That Dripped Blood,Incredible Melting Man and Tombs of the Blind Dead may be the only way out.

  • Hold It Now! Films

    Couple of quick comments- I agree with the argument made. I can also understand the rebuttals about too many crap movies to sort through. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Isn’t the sorting and finding the good stuff and then trading on those cool movies part of the allure of the fan. Just like finding cool indie bands and cool music. Isn’t that what DJ’s do? The super big DJ’s that play huge venues like Tiesto, BT etc.?

    We need to embrace obscure and cool. We need to embrace the underground ethos.

    Consider this- there are 300 million people in the US alone. If an indie film could get 50,000 people to buy their movie for 10 bucks- that’s a half a million dollars. Take out cost of production % to produce and market the film to the end user via online sales- amazon- iTunes and cost of shipping producing hard copy DVD and you still have 400k to 375k at 20 and 25% upcost.

    50k buyers for even the smallest niche out of 300 million potential buyers is not very ambitious. It is very doable. What is missing is the outreach to those 50k buyers and the mindset that buying and collecting indie films is different than buying a regular commercial movie.

    50k buyer isn’t asking for some kind of Paranormal Activity pie in the sky deal that hits like the lotto. It’s pretty grounded. PA’s story to success is the result of one producer a former acquisitions guy from Miramax who pulled every favor he had and championed the hell out of the movie. Even then it was a fluke he got it to a friend a DreamWorks which led to Speilberg seing it. Not something everyone can count on. Grinding out 50k unit sales is.

    Also remember for all those movies you remember from the 70′s that were such big hits. There were a ton you never heard of. Why? Because they never got seen. Just like so many films today. Does that make them bad? No. It just makes them the norm. It is abnormal that a film breaks out and makes it big.

    So go out and make the movie you want to make. Be happy with your ideas and choices. If it never makes a dime at least you made the movie you wanted to make. Even if you make all the compromises and try to make a movie that will sell it will most likely wont and now you have a movie that didn’t sell that isn’t even the film you wanted to make. Why? Because that’s the norm.

    The indie break out hit that came out of nowhere with out any help from the machine is a lie perpetuated by Hollywood to sell the dream. It just like everything that comes out of Hollywood is… an illusion used to market movies.

  • guest

    Some of the examples listed for independent films were terrible, like the Human Centipede-it was a horrible movie that dragged on and was just gross.  Whereas, I can still get frightened by Friday the 13th no matter how many times I watch it.  I think the content of the movies is a point of why they don’t do well either, I know I told everyone that asked me to not bother watching the Human Centipede because it was just a gross out factor movie and had no storyline or content.

  • joeybot

    The very idea for this article is flawed.  No movie
    makes 60 million in theatres that only appeals to hardcore horror buffs.  Most people who went to see Nightmare on Elm Street or Paranormal Activity are high schoolers who want cheap thrills.

    Secondly…there’s the difference between awareness of something and then getting that awareness to cross over into purchasing it.  Sure, lots of people knew about Human Centipede.  But the very nature of that movie turned off most who heard about it.  

    A lot of these indie horrors just end up being navel gazing…like “remember the 1970s, when horror was awesome?  Here’s a movie that’s just like they were, and with fake scratches and film damage on them!”  It appeals to a select group.  Even Tarantino, with movie stars, couldn’t make Grindhouse a hit.

    But I think we can all agree that indie horror should be supported more.  Stop torrenting, bastards!

  • http://twitter.com/imBadRonald barry m

    Where’s the big “Fuck You!”?  I definitely agree that the greater public horror community is both fickle and highly hypocritical.  But, where was the kick to the lower front-parts?  I was so ready to leap from my chair, fist pumping the air, spitting “hollas” all over the place.  Instead, what I got was a clear cut demonstration of what it is that’s the matter with the “horror community.”

    I don’t think anyone needs to support the indie horror scene by seeing every buzzed about genre flick.  I don’t even think it’s our duty, as movie goers, to make sure that the filmmakers have bread on their table.  That’s their job.  It’s not the job of the audience to make careers for others — we’re just looking to get entertained.  And if you can’t entertain enough of us, try a little harder next time.

    With that said, the definition of success, in the article, is unclear and muddled. It’s mainstream fans who make films like Fright Night or Freddy remakes a success. Not the horror fans.  They may be a part of the audience, but as someone pointed out, it’s more acceptable to take someone to the theater to see a major release (read mainstream), like Sinister, than it is to take someone to see Father’s Day. The real horror fan will, however, go see a flick like Father’s Day.  If’n enough of the horror fans go see it, and they make a profit, then they’ve made a successful film.  Independent films, whether horror or not, don’t need to make the opening weekend box office numbers, like mainstream movies do, to be a success.  So, it’s a moot point to compare the two types.

  • Anunakki

    As an independent horror film producer I agree with 90% of your post.   However, there is one thing you left out…

    I believe the real reason for the decline in viewership for indie horror is because 99% of it sucks balls.  At some point you just stop bothering…

    Back in the 80s and 90s I would go to Blockbuster and rent every indie horror film and most of the time, even if it wasnt great, it was watchable and i didnt feel ripped off.

    Today, I try to watch the latest releases and I cant make it through the first 20 minutes of 90% of them.  Every so often I catch a Horde or Attack the Block, but thats very very very very rare.

    So the problem isnt *really* with the horror audience…the problem is us. The filmmakers.  We shovel so much shit out there that we have alienated our audience and pushed them to seek comfort in what they know.  Evil Dead, Jason, Freddy, etc…

    • couchcutter

      It’s BOTH. I agree, I hate a shitload of indies. The vast majority are lazy, boring, copycat bullshit.

      However, even WHEN something awesome comes around, it doesn’t get the support it deserves in my opinion, which is really what I’m trying to get across in the article.

      • Boo

        The point is, if you don’t trust whether something is likely to be good, you don’t want to take the risk. Most audience decline throughout the film industry is based on lack of trust.

    • evil_eric

      I agree with this post 100%  Some of the movies this guy has mentioned are just garbage.  

    • Dachproduction

      I have to agree with that one

  • Mister Exploit

    Totally agree, the only movies I try to pay for anymore are the direct-to-video horrors.

  • evil eric

    Most of the “Indie” movies you mentioned aren’t very good.  Comparing these movies to something like Evil Dead is just silly.  If Indie film makers made something good, the word of mouth would get around and it would have some sort of success.  Everyone can make a film these days, but not everyone knows how to make it good.  Evil Dead was great because they were able to take the problems they had, and were able to overcome obstacles in a neat way.   

    • couchcutter

      Quote from the article:

      “You may not like the independent films I cited in this article, and that’s totally fair. I didn’t like all the indies I cited, either. But each one of them has taken a uniquely different approach to their stories that would have NEVER come from mainstream Hollywood. You may not like this crop, but what are we going to cheat ourselves out of in the future, by not making a point to especially nurture great independent genre flicks when they come along?”That last part is what matters to me. *when they come along*If there are absolutely no under-appreciated indies out there that you love, then this article does not apply to you.

  • Om

    The truth is refreshing to hear! Thank you. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Vozar/100000495138704 Shane Vozar

     For me digital download/instant streaming is the future of indie movies. I want to see and support everybody’s backyard opus but I can’t afford 20$ a pop and I don’t want to die buried under a avalanche of DVD’s I only watched once. Three bucks on amazon and I am watching awesome indies I have all ways wanted to see. I’m hoping new sites pop up that offer horror indie streaming. Heck I am planning on crapping out my own indie horror movie so I can partner with Amazon or another site like frightcore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bcottington Brian Cottington

    I’ve been making this same point for over a year now.  Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bcottington Brian Cottington

    I’ve been making this same point for over a year now.  Thank you!

  • Brzowe

    You have any idea what kind of marketing budget your up against?

  • truth

    How hard was it to say ” Fuck You – Horror Fans” with my dick in your mouth, CC?

  • MisterG

    There’s only one thing that makes a movie truly worth watching: the script.  Everything else is window dressing.

  • Manoush

    as an actress who was in quite a lot of indie movies in Europe and in the US and knows the scene well I have to agree with you … !!!!!!! love, Manoush

  • http://www.bmoviefilmvault.com/ Vault_Master

    Personally I don’t think we, the fans are to blame. From talking with folks in the indie film world over the years, I’ve learned several things. First off, the film biz is hard to break into, and even if you’re an aspiring indie filmmaker and you end up shooting a brilliant film, you have to find a distributor (which is HELL; I mean, how long did it take for “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” to finally get picked up? Two years?!), send your film through the shady we-say-we’re-not-but-we-are-a-censorship-committee MPAA, make any necessary cuts to get that R-rating (or PG-13), and then watch as your film gets a limited theatrical release (in NY, LA, and maybe a dozen other large cities if it proves to be popular) before it is dumped onto DVD & Blu-ray.

    The only other option is to self-distribute, which isn’t cheap either, and the only way you can get the word out is by using the web, because advertising on TV or radio is cost-prohibitive. But the problem with doing it on the internet is that it is too damned big. Yeah, you can get a banner for your film on one site, a review or two on a few others, but in the end, how many people are going to know that it exists?! Even if you sell adspace on all the social media sites, create a Twitter feed, and an official Facebook page, it still isn’t enough.

    In the end, it all comes down to the major studios having more money for everything, and the fact that their parent companies control the majority of the media in this country. It is a huge bitch trying to get the word out when you’re an indie filmmaker, and sometimes all you can hope is that your movie gains a huge cult following years after it is sent out into the world. (Don’t fret, films like THE THING and NIGHTBREED failed and were forgotten during their initial runs, but now have huge, rabid, fanbases. Better late than never right?)

    In any case, blame the unfair studio system that takes advantage of aspiring indie filmmakers. Blame the distributors who trick/force/sweet talk up-and-coming filmmakers into signing a shitty deal. Blame the MPAA for not being fair and impartial. But don’t put it all on us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.e.crumpton Tony E Crumpton

    It has always been about supply and demand. Quality products, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead, have always and will continue to rise to the top and be successful. The problem comes with the glut of mediocre and crappy films that flood the market in this day and age of cheap and inexpensive film making. Just because someone wants to make a movie and does, doesn’t mean they are making a quality product, and consumers are looking to spend their money on quality. Sure, a lot of the remakes and films produced by studios suck, but there is at least some level of competence that consumers are willing to risk their money on when they choose to buy their ticket. Because of this glut of crap that the indie horror community shovels out, many of us have been burned too many times and are no longer willing to plop down money on films we know nothing about or looks like it offers nothing new or original.

    Today, quality independent horror films are picked up for distribution
    and marketed by companies the same way they always have been. If a
    filmmaker has a quality product, it will get distribution the same way
    as The Evil Dead or TCM. And heaven forbid, if the film is outstanding, it will gain a following and be able to make money in the future when the kids of today become nostalgic for it in 20 years.

    One of the things that benefited the horror community in the past was the grand old VIDEO STORE. People were willing to plop down 2 bucks on a rental of a horror film they had never heard of, but that market has died and there has not been anything to fill the void. This was also where movies like The Evil Dead and Re-Animator made heir reputation. These films continue to make money because of the reputation they built from their time sitting on video store shelves.

    If independent horror filmmakers want to make money, they need to find a new distribution model that allows for cheap (2 to 3 dollar) rentals of their films. Then, once people have seen it and think it is worthy of spending their money on, they just might buy a copy.