Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Made For TV Horror - Where Have You Gone?
What has happened to made-for-TV horror movies? Back in the 70s and 80s and even into the 90s we got some real quality horror movies that were made for TV. The 70s gave us the great Salem's Lot, an adaptation of a vampire story by Stephen King. Gargoyles, featuring effects from the late, great Stan Winston and you'd find a quality movie Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark and The Night Stalker. The 1980s gave us Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, which old and new fans alike have been able to discover or re-discover on DVD since it was released a couple years ago. It even has a scheduled Blu Ray.
You may be thinking of movies that you're pissed I didn't list but that isn't the point. There are plenty of websites to see a list of good (and bad) made-for-TV horror movies. The point is asking what the hell happened to them. Sure even in their heyday they weren't all good, and some were down right awful (I'm looking at you Devil Dog: Hound of Hell) but the level of film making was obviously miles above any sort of made-for-TV fare we get today, which seems to be limited to SyFy channel originals. Now, those SyFy originals aren't all bad, if you enjoy a few beers... or a 12 pack they can be cheap fun... some of them. The fact is that is about all we have anymore for TV horror and most of them are headache inducing shit fests. Even the next closest thing, Direct-To-Video, has gone to shit. That is another discussion for another day though.
It just seems that TV has completely been disregarded as a legitimate means of breaking a new director or getting your script into production. When is the last time we have seen a tried and true director like Dan Curtis (1973's Dracula) get to make a movie for TV? I know there are scripts lying around, wasting away, that would be successful on the smaller screen. And where would Steven Spielberg be without his 1971 picture Duel.
It isn't like there is a shortage of channels that are dedicated to horror or make horror a large part of their programming. FearNet, Chiller, and the aforementioned SyFy. Maybe SyFy is the answer to bringing back this lost love, but not in their current form. Maybe if they put more emphasis on quality in simplicity instead of making a giant monster movie on a soap opera budget. Maybe. Hell, many of the best made-for-TV horror movies played on network stations like ABC. Is it the times? Is it that people are so uptight and worried that it may spoil their child's fragile little mind that no station wants to play it? Is there no money to made from advertising and ratings? I'm sure it is a combination of all of that.
There are so many great movies that never made it into a theater that wouldn't go unnoticed because of the made-for-TV movie. It is really a shame that the style is pretty close to dying currently. Sure every few years we get something, and recently we had the Masters of Horror series which divulged into Fear Itself but that was so toned down for network TV that no one cared. Other than that there seems to be nothing, and not much desire to bring it back. That's a shame.