We are currently enjoying a pretty booming horror industry. Sometimes it feels like there is *at least one* horror convention going on every weekend in America, zombies have become a staple of popular culture, tons of remakes hitting theaters, keeping the old franchises alive and raking in big bucks… It’s really rather glorious when you think about it. At the end of the day, this boom brought on by nostalgic appreciation is what makes organizations like CouchCutter so successful.
I still don’t think it is illogical to hate remakes as a fan, but as an adult, I am happy that the original filmmakers and many of the original cast often reap rewards of these remakes. And I am stoked that people dig into them, it really is great. Not for me, but if something in this miserable world gives you joy, I wouldn’t campaign to have that taken away from you at all.
But there is a nagging question that eats at me when I look around at our ripe and seemingly healthy horror boom:
How long can you repackage older entertainment before it becomes completely irrelevant to a new generation?
Does an ultimate ultimate (whatever medium has taken hold by that time) edition of Fulci’s films still make waves in 2023, when many children of the 80′s will be in their late thirties to early forties? People born in the 70′s will be around fifty.
Some of us will stay hardcore, but the *vast majority* will have moved into a different stage in life. I know, not you, but most everyone else. The target demographic for most entertainment is 18-35. It’s a coveted group because we still spend money on dumb shit. That happens less and less as you get into your forties: your parents die, you have a family, responsibilities are higher so you work more and play less, etc, etc.
So again, let’s assume you’re the cool 45-year-old still scoping for young chicks in skimpy costumes at the horror con in 2023… What do you see?
Are there more attendees than when you were a lad? The same? Less? Are masses of 22-year-olds in 2023 (people that were *12* in 2013) still dressing like Jason, Myers, Leatherface, and Pinhead? Do they still have nostalgic connections with these characters like you do?
I have encountered a number of knee-jerk responses when posing these types of questions to industry insiders.
“There will always be new mediums to release the old shit on, so the old shit will always sell.”
Yeah, that’s why people are lining up to buy “Casablanca” on Blu-Ray. At some point, the generational gap becomes so wide, it no longer appeals to the buying market (mostly made up of people age 18-35). It’s no longer about appreciating the art. Most anyone that has ever watched Casablanca with me has agreed that it is a masterpiece. But at the end of the day, so much is lost culturally and technologically between the time of its release and now, that it is a real chore to *relate to*. And this is key with a young, buying market. We want our entertainment to be on our wavelength.
“Young people today will still be nostalgic about the characters because of the current remakes more geared to them.”
First of all, those big box office numbers are coming from us, mostly. A small slice of the pie is from new horror fans. Also, we (20′s-30′s) didn’t simply have a few hot horror releases come out each year. We were *bombarded* with horror and genre cinema. Tons of it. The cable model that most of us lived to see provided an abundance of unique, original cult and horror cinema that many of us are still discovering gems from in our 30′s.
These remakes are mostly throw away flicks. Once you’ve seen it once, there isn’t much to go back and revisit. Many of the horror movies that came out when I was a kid were also throw aways, but again, there were so fucking many that it didn’t matter. There was a consistent, high quality (for its time) product available in abundance.
Of course we also see more horror movies made now than ever, but most of those are seriously a chore to watch. The quality level was high and the product abundant back in the day. But eventually, probably soon, most of those flicks will be too old to appeal to a new generation.
And what will it be replaced with? Three of my favorite movies of 2011 were not remakes, but were still *homages* to films from a previous period. That stands to encounter the same generational gap that the originals do.
“Look at Science Fiction! Star Trek’s generation fizzled out, but the Sci Fi Conventions are still strong.”
I wish horror had a place in the market like Science Fiction, but it doesn’t. Sci Fi is WAAAAAY more accessible to the common man. We live in a technological age in which everyone is connected to a machine, science fiction is a mainstay on television, it’s typically family friendly…. And even though Science Fiction has its remakes, they also have a massive amount of fresh, unique, high quality original content being spun out each year.
If you look at the actual sustainability model and the market position of these two genres, you aren’t just comparing apples to oranges here. You’re comparing apples to chunks of asphault. There is no comparison, Sci Fi simply has a much larger share of the entertainment market.
Time is the industry’s biggest threat. It’s every modern industry’s biggest threat, and the successful ones respond by *innovating* and *thinking forward*, but horror is on the opposite trajectory. What we are experiencing is an “economic bubble” driven by nostalgia, hurdling toward the history of the product instead of its future. Once the majority of us have inevitably moved on to another stage in life (when the bubble “pops”), there may be nothing left to support the industry (or those of us that make a living in it). The generational gap will eventually get too wide to relate to a new generation and there will be nothing actually new and original to feed them in its absence. Because “new” and “original” aren’t currently supported in the culture. An exclusive group of established franchises are.
I’m not suggesting anything as apocalyptic as “there will be no horror fans”, but once this event begins to take place (likely some time in the next decade as the majority of us float out of the coveted demographic), the dip in attendance will likely trickle away over the course of a few years before we wake up one day and there are maybe three “big event” horror cons left in the country.
Is there a way to thwart this? Sure. Magically turn the production of high quality unique and original genre movies into a profitable business.
Any idea how to make that happen?
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