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How come studios never made epic horror films?

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I was looking at the June schedule, and I see TCM has an evening of epic westerns. In May, during the annual Memorial Day marathon, there are plenty of epic war films.

 

How come studios never made epic horror films (during the golden age of Hollywood)? Is it because there's a limit to the amount of screen time an audience can tolerate gore?

 

I'd be curious to read others' thoughts. Also, if there are epic horror films made in other countries, please mention them.

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Well, it depends on what you would define as epic horror. Can you think of any horror movie from any era/country that you would call an epic? If so, what is it about the movie that makes you feel it's epic?

 

As for the gore, there really wasn't any gore in the studio era horror films, even though that didn't stop people from fainting and running out on screenings of Dracula (1931) or Frankenstein (1931).

 

Some people have always frowned upon horror, and wouldn't want to see or make them. Some people have a genuine moral objection to them. Other studios tolerated them because they could be cheaply made and have a return on a small investment. 

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Well, it depends on what you would define as epic horror. Can you think of any horror movie from any era/country that you would call an epic? If so, what is it about the movie that makes you feel it's epic?

 

As for the gore, there really wasn't any gore in the studio era horror films, even though that didn't stop people from fainting and running out on screenings of Dracula (1931) or Frankenstein (1931).

 

Some people have always frowned upon horror, and wouldn't want to see or make them. Some people have a genuine moral objection to them. Other studios tolerated them because they could be cheaply made and have a return on a small investment. 

 

I think your last paragraph may provide the biggest clue-- modestly budgeted programmers, like the inexpensive horror flicks Val Lewton made at RKO, were turned out quickly. Therefore, they usually did not exceed 75 minutes and were very compact, tightly rendered stories. 

 

And by 'epic,' I am probably referring more to a film's length. We don't see any 2 1/2 hour horror films from the golden age of Hollywood. Of course, some serials had elements of horror in them, and if you put the chapters together, you do have a longer film. But mostly the studios kept horror features fairly short in length, and the budgets for them were not as extravagant as budgets for pictures in other genres, like musicals or war films.

 

Of course this discussion doesn't have to be limited to films made during the golden age of Hollywood (1930 to 1959). In the 60s, there were roadshow musicals (giving them a more 'epic' feel) but there were no roadshow horror films-- at least none I can think of right now.

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And by 'epic,' I am probably referring more to a film's length. We don't see any 2 1/2 hour horror films from the golden age of Hollywood. Of course, some serials had elements of horror in them, and if you put the chapters together, you do have a longer film. But mostly the studios kept horror features fairly short in length, and the budgets for them were not as extravagant as budgets for pictures in other genres, like musicals or war films.

 

I agree. Plus, with the outset of WW2, most studios dropped any horror films, and most of them came out of the Poverty Row studios or the occasional Universal film (and your aforementioned Lewtons). As the 50's rolled around, things got even more conservative, and the studios' genre output stuck mostly to science fiction (many of which bordered on horror). The same time period saw Congressional hearings about how horror comic books were destroying America's youth, effectively banning the genre for two decades from print, and this sentiment carried over to films as well. It was the independent producers like Sam Katzman and the folks at AIP that kept things going in the horror genre, as well as the Hammer films in the UK.  Although many of the Hammer films looked very nice, none of the films from this era had much of a budget, so again, epic-ness was out of the question. 

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Horror doesn't lend itself to "epic" in terms of budget and time length.  The best horror films are tightly wound.   Any "epic" horror flicks would be mini-series on TV like Stephen King adaptations or maybe Walking Dead.  A lot of horror on TCM is aired during October (of course), so at least we have that.

 

What I would like to see on TCM (and it would have to be after prime time due to gore) are more of the great horror films from the 70s like those of David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, etc. with commentary by someone who actually knows and appreciates the genre.

 

For the most part and with some exceptions, the horror movie of the past couple of decades has not been very good - predictable plots of teenagers getting into trouble, trying to infuse horror and humor and failing at both.  Right now there are a couple of new horror flicks that look very interesting and that I would like to see:  GET OUT and RAW. 

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Horror doesn't lend itself to "epic" in terms of budget and time length.  The best horror films are tightly wound.   Any "epic" horror flicks would be mini-series on TV like Stephen King adaptations or maybe Walking Dead.  A lot of horror on TCM is aired during October (of course), so at least we have that.

 

What I would like to see on TCM (and it would have to be after prime time due to gore) are more of the great horror films from the 70s like those of David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, etc. with commentary by someone who actually knows and appreciates the genre.

 

For the most part and with some exceptions, the horror movie of the past couple of decades has not been very good - predictable plots of teenagers getting into trouble, trying to infuse horror and humor and failing at both.  Right now there are a couple of new horror flicks that look very interesting and that I would like to see:  GET OUT and RAW. 

Check out the very effective " The Autopsy of Jane Doe"

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The made for television " Frankenstein: The True Story" is epic in scale and time -the closest to an epic are " The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

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