The Great Horror Movie Revival: Why We Love the Return of Movie Monsters

We live in a time where retro is all the rage and, as you’d expect, the movie business hasn’t missed the boat when it comes to reviving the classics. In the same way Fuji now offers 60s style cameras and web designers are now “tipping their hats” to the 90s according to David Lee of Squarespace, directors are going back to the old school. Essentially working on the premise that a good idea is a good idea forever, Hollywood executives are now commissioning more horror remakes than ever before. Indeed, we only have to look at the recent reincarnation of Stephen King’s IT to see that budgets are being blown on making these remakes as impressive as possible.

According to IMDb, the 2017 remake of King’s IT cost New Line Cinema $35 million. The ambitious project not only had to contend with a series of horror remakes scheduled for release in the latter half of 2017 and into 2018, but it had to eclipse the 1990 original starring Tim Curry as Pennywise. Well, if the numbers are anything to go by, then it managed just that. IMDb’s IT rundown calculates the movie made $117.15 million during its first weekend in the US and, according to CBC Canada, more than $371 million worldwide as of September 17, 2017. On top of breaking the record for the most opening weekend ticket sales of any horror movie ever released, IT has also won over the critics. Despite horror fans being some of the most cynical in the business, it currently has an 87% positive rating according to Rotten Tomatoes members.

Horror Courses Through Us at Every Level

Whichever way you slice it, IT has been a hit and that bodes well for the revivals we can expect to see in the coming months. Naturally, IT’s original story was a hit long before Andy Muschietti was drafted in to direct the 2017 remake. We also know that the production value was far higher than the 1990 movie, which is another reason people were keen to tune in. However, what else is it about IT, moreover all classic horror movies, that still captivates us? One reason that the New Zealand Herald’s Chloe Germaine Buckley suggests is nostalgia. With IT mainly being a hit with 30-to-40-year-olds, the idea that it speaks to our childhood memories of fear and anxiety are totally plausible. Director Muschietti makes a big deal of telling the stories of the seven children in the movie, which makes IT as much of a personal journey for viewers as for those in the movie.

Another reason IT and movies like it strike a chord with movie-goers is the fact we’re never far from the horror genre in our daily lives. Anyone who’s ever played a game will have noted the popularity of horror titles. Blizzard Entertainment’s 2012 release, Diablo III, is the 12th highest selling game of all time (30 million copies). By tapping into our love of man vs. demon, Diablo III is a game that keeps the player on the edge of their seat. In the iGaming sector, Betway Casino's Immortal Romance slot game takes inspiration from the Twilight saga and treats players to a haunting love story. Finally, thanks to the advent of virtual reality technology, you can now step into a world of uncertainty. PlayStation VR’s Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a VR version of a classic and it sees you ride through a haunted theme park busting killer clowns.

We’re Built to Love Horror Movies

Finally, and this is something we can’t escape, it seems as though we’re programmed to love horror movies. OK, so everyone doesn’t have this innate attraction to scary stuff, but there is some evidence from psychology that we have an internal desire to be frightened. As professor at the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University Glenn Sparks has noted, scary movies increase our heartrate, breathing rate and blood pressure. These effects continue after the movie is over and this, in turn intensifies any experiences we have in the immediate aftermath. Known technically as the excitation transfer process, this phenomenon essentially makes us feel happier and more engaged after we come away from the theatre.

Based on this and the other factors we’ve picked out, it’s easy to see why the schedule of movies on the horizon is filled with horror remakes. Although the full details are limited, we know Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is being produced by Mandalay Pictures, Platinum Dunes and Universal Pictures. As yet, early drafts are still being reviewed, but with BBC announcing its own TV remake of The Birds, it’s likely this movie will come out sooner rather than later.

Of the movies we do have more details about, the final installment of the Halloween series is set for release on October 19, 2018. Jamie Lee Curtis will reprise her role as Laurie Strode in the slasher movie that started it all and she’s already teased that she’ll face the “same issues” as she did way back in 1978. Another potential role reprisal we’ve been teased with in recent months is the return of Freddy Kruger. Speaking at the Film & Comic Con in Belfast, Ireland, Kruger actor Robert Englund said that he’d love to bring his character back for a cameo.

The last time we left the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, the script was a mess and we saw it as “wasted potential.” Although Kruger popping up in a future movie might not make up the 2010 disaster, it would be fun to see him again and fans would certainly love it. If you’re a lover of horror movies, now is a good time to be alive. Thanks to a combination of Hollywood investment, popular culture and our own psychology, we’re now getting the chance to see some of the big screen’s most frightening characters return in stunning HD quality.