Are Most Horror Fans Today Apathetic?

Are Most Horror Fans Today Apathetic?

This question could be posed to fans of film in general but this is a horror website so…

Let me start by saying that I’ve run my own horror blog for about 5 years now. Within the past couple of years, we’ve placed a stronger emphasis on bringing some much needed attention to the true independent filmmaker and their works. I’m not talking about someone who’s backed by a major studio posing as an indie one. I’m talking about the filmmaker who wears multiple hats: producer, director, sound tech, fund raiser. One who’s knee deep with elbows full of grease.

I’m finding it increasingly disconcerting that response (to reviews, interviews, news posted, etc.) is either slim or non-existent. I know I’m not operating in a vacuum as numerous blogs and other sites have acknowledged that these films are truly excellent. And more importantly, worthy of your time, attention and hard earned dollars. In this era of remakes and boring PG-13 fare flooding cineplexes, even the most embittered and hardened of horror fans would find refuge in these films, taking comfort in the fact that their beloved genre of film hasn’t become stale and uninventive.

I’ve even gone so far as to offer incentives to readers if they check out a particular film. Yes, actually enticing folks with my own hard earned dollars with pretty killer prizes because that’s how much I believe in a certain filmmaker’s particular project. Even with something as nominal as a $4.95 rental fee (either through VOD or Indieflix), I don’t get a response. Zip. Zero. Zilch. But when I have free DVD giveaways on the blog, response has been incredibly overwhelming. I can understand not forking over $15-$20 for a self-distributed film or even one being sold by a small distro company. We’ve all been burned by ‘blind’ purchases before but that’s half the fun (at least for me). But $4.95? Even the most broke of college kids can afford that.

Coupled with this, whenever one of these lackluster remakes comes out, I see a stream of piss and moan posts from bloggers and other writers. It’s like clockwork. That train is never late. Aside from a handful of blogs and other writers that I can usually count on to counteract this phenomenon, you don’t see a positive number of posts which highlight films that you should check out instead. It seems like the horror fan of today is much more prone to being angry and bitter about a franchise that they love which is now being bastardized rather than digging deep into the sandbox to find a nugget of greatness. And really, you don’t have to dig that much.

So what is it kids? Do you think that most horror fans today are apathetic towards indie films? Are they mired in the swamp of familiarity and less likely to take a risk on films with less notoriety? And worse yet, are they more apt to go the easy way out with downloading the film and if they don’t like it, simply right click and select ‘delete’?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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18 Responses to “Are Most Horror Fans Today Apathetic?”

  1. I think the presence of the “horror fan” itself has changed, James, and unfortunately not necessarily for the better. Horror is big business for most studios, at least presently, and with the glut of new films (remakes, indie, and original alike), we’ve also gotten more “fans” join the ranks.

    I’m not pointing any fingers at one particular group, but most of these fans are tweens and teens who have been likely been targeted and carved out into neat Hollywood niches. They’re more likely to see whatever big screen polyp eeks into theaters because they see it advertised and as long as they do, Hollywood will continue to make the same thing.

    On the flip side, this new generation of fans is huge. The point being, many “online journalists” and bloggers feel it relevant (and better for their traffic analytics to write about the films (ie. complain) because that’s what generates traffic/attention. After all, “everyone else is doing it.”

    Indie films are somewhat of a catch-22. No one wants to talk about them because no one is seeing them. No one is seeing them because no one is talking about then. For me personally, part of my reward in discovering indie films is getting to actually know the creators and helping them in turn by spreading the word. Of course everyone wants something for free, but what people want even more is exclusivity.

    It may sound backwards, but that’s the key. Think about any really popular site online… Twitter, Facebook, etc. What’s the commonality there? You have to join. You have to be a member. Being a member is free, of course, but without signing up you can’t get in. A really simple analogy I heard once was: “Keep the door closed, but never lock it.”

  2. Speaking for myself, it’s also a location issue. I enjoy the posts on the blogs, I hear about the films, and I want to see them, but they usually don’t reach outside the US, definitely not with theatrical releases, often not with DVDs.

    Most of the input I get is mainstream, but does that make one apathetic? As mentioned by Rondal, there is a group of teens and tweens out there, but that does not mean that serious fans who watch, write, search, analyse are not out there. I can’t get to indie, but I try and be part of things.

  3. @Rondal, you bring up some interesting points especially regarding the latest influx of so- called ‘fans.’ And to that end, yes, it makes sense that they wouldn’t necessarily be into the more non-mainstream fare.

    But you bring up another interesting point around exclusivity. Presumably, people follow blogs and sites like The Blood Sprayer because we’re different. We offer something that your average run of the mill site doesn’t. And a big component of that is indie films true horror fans have a desire for.

    So why are we not even seeing a response by even the most diehard of fans? If exclusivity is what is craved, you can look no further than some of the work our fellow cohorts are doing to bring these films to light. Isn’t being ‘in the know’ a reason for joining a community such as ours?

    @Madelon, good points about our overseas brethren. Absolutely not, that does not make one apathetic. Just curious, what is support (i.e. online communities) like where you are at in regards to independent films?

    • My guess would be that we’re experiencing a shift, much the same as felt by the advertising industry, in that information is so omnipresent now that there’s no true way to contain that sense of ‘in the know.’ Unlike magazines, people can access anything online and so their sense of commitment (for lack of a better term) to any one source of information is greatly diminished.

      If you think about the history of clubs/organizations, they’ve always been a pretty small lot of dedicated individuals (such as those found here), who often lack the stature of credibility to reach outside of the inner circle. A good example I saw recently was comic scribe Steve Niles taking a stand for Creator-Owned content. Sure, people have been supporting creator-owned titles for the longest time, but somehow Steve was still able to magnetize a following because of who he is and the followers he already has.

      That’s not too say that any of us lack skill, talent, or passion (I think you’d agree we’ve got that in spades), but more often than not it requires an outsider who’s already got the attention of the masses to bring any lasting impression to a cause (in this case supporting indie films).

  4. You pose some very interesting questions here, Cortez. In a nutshell, I feel like for every passionate horror fan out there there’s at least three pissed-off mofos standing behind them waiting to unleash their anger on the latest I Know What You Did Last Summer installment. This has always driven me crazy… it seems easier for bloggers to write with rage than with love.

    Personally, if I really don’t like something, I try not to talk about it. The world already has way too much negativity as it is. But no matter what my feelings on a piece are, I still try to have FUN with writing about it. That’s invariably why we’re all here… for the fun of it. Why waste your breath spitting venom when you could be singing praises?

    I know I’m kind of deviating from your main point here, but I do agree and see where you’re coming from with the indie angle of the argument. I admit that I’m not terribly caught up in the underground horror scene, but I will tell you something else. Seeing people like you and other bloggers crusade these pictures HAS made me want to watch them. I know as a blogger it’s hard to really grasp if our work is making an impact unless we have an actual physical comment or some type of feedback to go off on. But believe me when I say that your passion is being noticed. I’ve seen blogs spotlight some damn interesting looking films that I’ve been very excited to see… films I would have never heard of if it hadn’t been for the attention given from these sites.

    Promoting these movies and getting to know their creators (something I’ve always loved) as Rondal suggested are fantastic ways to get the attention of fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few years we start seeing a major uprising from the indie scene with more and more fans gravitating towards those films. With talented and impassioned people spotlighting them like they are, I think the indie filmmakers are going to be kicking some major ass.

  5. I thought it was all in my imagination. Kudos for writing this.

  6. Being the owner of a blog devoted to the academic exploration of horror and the fantastic, while I recognize that probing horror for social, cultural, and even spiritual significance is a niche market, but in my view much of the horror subculture is not interested in depth. We seem to prefer spectacle rather than substance for the most part. In my view this means we fail to appreciate horror in ways beyond entertainment, and it means that we may also fail to remember and appreciate the history of horror that our subculture is founded upon. Pity. Thanks for raising the issue.

  7. @Rondal, again really good points. Which brings up another interesting question. Why haven’t more of the filmmakers who’ve ‘made it’ rally around this cause? I don’t see Adam Green or Eli Roth really championing the efforts of the true indie, DIY filmmaker. Correction, Eli did come out in support of Dead Hooker in a Trunk. But I wish he and others would do more.

    @Joe, another interesting view. Thanks for sharing. Maybe I’m ahead of the curve then 🙂 I do hope to see a shift as more and more horror fiends like yourself get tired of the same ol’ thing.

    • I’ll admit, you’ve got me there, Cortez. Why directors like Adam and Eli haven’t done more to help support their indie roots is very interesting. Even with the true DIY creators there’s very rarely ever talk of their fellow film makers.

      Something I would love to see would be more indie film trailers on other indie film releases. That’s how I first got hooked on Full Moon and Troma. I took a chance renting one flick and once I saw all the madness in the trailers, when I returned that movie I picked up the others.

      Hmm… perhaps at the core it’s about a lack of leadership. By that I mean society (or group) whose sole purpose is to join together film makers and fans alike. The ‘how’ and the ‘why’ is a whole ‘nother discussion I’d rather not get in to, but it sounds like that’s what needs to happen, wouldn’t you guys agree?

  8. Horror’s “top dog” don’t even have to get involved financially. Sometimes, a powerful statement from a highly regarded peer is all you need. Just ask Clive Barker what Stephen King’s “I’ve seen the future of horror…” quote did for him!

    BUT, we as horror fans have to get more involved.

  9. I’m writing this w/o reading other comments posted, so sorry if my theme came up already, but I wanted my thoughts from a fresh pallet.

    At this point in life, my flood of horror (which the industry has been on indie & studio level since the late 90s) is down to a trickle. My horror dollar is rolled up tight. At age 30, I have a wife, house, kid, and fetus on the way in a bad economy. I am employed.

    So w/ all my distractions and limitations, I am still able to make time for horror. However, I got tired of being burned by movies I took a risk on. Growing up in the 80s & 90s, I haven’t bottomed out yet. I still have some Argento, zombie, obscure slasher, and other proven horror movies to see. As obscure as a movie like Neon Maniacs is, it’s definitely on my to do list. When the bootleg movies I see at the Rock & Shock convention; whose covers are burned into my memory from the Mom & Pop video store; get a legit release, I’ll do my best to add it to my collection.

    Not to mention, re-watching movies I love like From Beyond & Day of the Dead, that I’ve already spent money on and know I love. So when I took risks on indie films, I found that they were mostly movies made by people wanting to make their version of the movies I’ve already seen.

    They get my time when I can, but I don’t owe them my time. It’s nothing personal, just my honest perspective. Great article. My 1st post here.

  10. Cortez,

    My experience as an indie filmmaker is that there is an assumption that anything on the net should be free. So, if I offer a 30-day stream of my short film for $1.95, I might get 5 people to watch. If I offer that same stream for free I may get 5000 people to watch it.

    The question then becomes, “Is exposure more important than money?” Should I just give it away for free and hope the next time I make a film I can recoup some $$?

    However, that next time never seems to come. The payday is forever off in the distance…

  11. @Justin, thanks. It’s been a question and a predicament that has bothered me for some time now.

    @John, I agree. By and large, most of our subculture does not appreciate depth. However, based on the backlash recent mainstream films have received, I thought that things would swing the other way. Horror, unbeknownst to the masses, is actually becoming more intellectal, with films becoming a much more cerebral experience (at least in my humble opinion). As such, I would think that the true horror loving, yearning for something more populace, would be springing for the chance to check out films that I and many other writers are spotlighting. Sadly, that is not happening.

    @Rondal, I’d definitely love to see that practice come back of putting nano budget film trailers at the start of other productions instead of watching trailers to upcoming releases that are particular to only that studio or distribution company.

    Personally, in regards to the filmmakers who’ve ‘made it’, I think its a function of self-serving gain and a ‘forgot where I came from’ trapping. I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but that’s the impression that I get.

    @B-Stank, you are absolutely correct. Monetary efforts aren’t necessarily needed but some pointing in the right direction, setting up of meet and greets with folks ‘in the know’, that was more or less what I was referring to. I just don’t see that happening.

    @Todd, thanks for stopping by to comment. You and I have talked about this a bit. Sadly, your experience and quandry is not uncommon. People want the instant gratification of everything nowadays and that’s where I think the true problem may lie. Why take a chance and spend money when you can download for free? The true indie filmmaker, I fear, will be like today’s musician. You’ll need a day job just to maintain and filmmaking will be nothing more than a ‘hobby’ but not a means to an end. I hope that doesn’t happen but that’s where I see things heading.

  12. Something I’ve noticed, first within myself and then within others, is that there’s a portion of horror fans who grew up under the idea that horror movies were a bad thing in general. Growing up in a conservative environment, I always felt that the general perception was that there were regular movies and then there were horror movies. The horror movies, usually from the late ’80s/ early ’90s, that my family would bring home from the video store were generally chosen because we could sit back and have a good time while trying to scare each other and laughing about the silly decisions the characters made. From a cinematic standpoint, they were bad movies (things like Dr. Giggles stick out to me), but we accepted them because our expectations of the genre were so low. As Scream pointed out in the mid-90s, we certainly weren’t the only ones that approached horror in this manner. I have a feeling that a large portion of the 25-35 age group grew up having similar experiences with horror cinema.

    I’ve fought against myself to take the genre more seriously over the last decade, and have checked out several indies thanks to the likes of yourself during my blogging tenure. But it’s still incredibly easy to just slip back into that youthful mindset and accept whatever horror spectacle is put in front of me, even if I know it’s dumb as a doornail. The trick, I think, is doing your best to appreciate both sides of the horror equation, and I’m not sure what can be done to get some of the Scream Generation to open their minds back up to the great stuff out there.

  13. Woohoo, lots of comments. What a great discussion inspired by James’ great post!

    Here’s how I go about my business. If a movie interests me or if I hear good things from fellow bloggers, I’ll do what I can to see it. Whether it is an independent film or a Hollywood film, it doesn’t matter to me – good films are good films.

    To be honest, though, I’ve seen a few independent horror films lately that bloggers have praised and supported, but I just can’t get behind most of these. Sadly, I haven’t had many indie films come my way that I could feel really passionate about. A large part of this is because the current trend in independent filmmaaking is not really my bag so to speak.

    There have been some good ones, for sure, and I write my review, tweet/facebook about it, etc. I admire your efforts very much and as a filmmaker, I know that people like you do make a difference.

    Still, I don’t think of my blog as a campaigning or advertising platform. So unless a film really impresses me, I’m not going to promote it beyond the treatment I give every other film (regardless of its production background).

    Anyway, there’s my two cents. 🙂

  14. I find it interesting that all comments (except the most recent) have been responded to except for the2ndsuitor. I believe that a lot of other horror fans are in the same financial situation. I know I am! So to make a blanket statement that horror fans are apethetic because they are not purchasing indie films (in any format) is ignorant! I am supporting a family of 4 on one income. While my families needs will (and should) come before the puchase of any horror film, I beleive that I still qualify as a fan.

  15. @the2ndsuitor, I hear ya. I think as horror fans we get burned more than any other genre of film. And I empathize with money being tight. But I think people that follow this site and other blogs are looking for something new, inventive and fresh. So when I spotlight films that I think are worthy, its with that in mind. Sadly, I just don’t see a healthy level of support. And it bums me out.

    @TheMike, you bring up another interesting point. How can you take a genre seriously that in a way, has become self-parody? I like to think that the reason why we continue to love and have faith in it is because it can be new and fresh at times. All genre of films are cyclical.

    @Becky, that’s an interesting stance. I’m not trying to sound overly important here but some filmmakers do rely on bloggers and other sites for exposure and to help get the word out. Personally, I think our role can make a difference if we talk enough about a particular film.

    @Tabitha, I appreciate your passion but I merely asked a question. I shared my personal experiences which may not be indicative of the whole. I am in no way making a sweeping statement nor discrediting anyone’s fandom.

  16. Great post…I think it’s important to remember that horror films have, for the most part, been hijacked by spectacle…whether outrageous blood, gore or nudity…if you look back to Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Frankenstein, the original Dracula, etc…those films were all about character, mood and atmosphere. The 1950’s created an era of catering to the teeny-boppers which has gone on to explode since the 1980’s. If you look at the great horror of the 60’s and 70’s, it wasn’t until the exploitation era really came in that things started downhill…but that was a reaction to what was being shown on television…audiences tastes were changing and more for the disgusting. Psycho, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw, The Exorcist, even the original Night of the Living Dead did a great job of creating interesting and unique horror (with depth even!)…but then the 1980’s hit and suddenly action movies and horror movies merged and became a genre where kids have to run after 15 minutes and need to continue running until the end…there was/is no need for characters or mood and atmosphere…just look at a lot of the indie films being made…the craft is completely lacking…too many kids growing up watching bad horror and being affected by the continued marketing campaigns and now they think that’s all horror should be. All of this has to do with apathy…on everyone’s part…from the filmmakers to the audiences to the hollywood suits to the reviewers who too easily want to see their stupid one-liners, arbitrary tit shots and new death scenes…none of which comes into play with the great horror films. The 80’s ruined movies like no other decade (and probably the whole country for that matter)…especially horror films.

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