Directors of Some of History's Best Horror Films Discuss The Genre in This 1982 Roundtable
We talk a lot about horror here on NFS, because, for one, the genre is awesome, and for two, the genre is supremely important to understanding and analyzing the human condition. In this 1982 roundtable, host Mick Garris discusses several genre-specific topics with directors of some of the greatest horror films in history, David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, and John Landis, conversing about why people watch horror films, how important special effects are to a production, and what they think about censorship. Continue on to check out 26-minute of scary movie goodness.
If I was only able to talk about one thing for the rest of my life it would undoubtedly be horror cinema. Horror is that weird, quiet girl who sits in the back corner of the class, whose strange antics and bizarre clothes provide entertainment to all, but respect from few. But there’s so much more to her — oh yes. There is more to her.
This was the first thing that came to mind during the first topic in the roundtable discussion, when Garris asks Landis why he thinks horror films are so popular, and the An American Werewolf in London director simply replies, “I guess ’cause they’re really entertaining.” It’s not until Cronenberg starts to talk about the complex themes in Videodrome that we begin to see beyond the blood, guts, and exploding heads. We see the political, social, and spiritual commentaries these filmmakers are making within the horror film universe. Cronenberg, when talking about censorship in terms of his film Scanners, which has a head exploding in the first 10 minutes, says:
I have been offended by violence in movies, but primarily because, let’s say, the violence is completely gratuitous within the context of the movie. That is to say every movie has its own rules, and you can really set up any game that you want, but once you do that you have to play that game, otherwise the audience feels — they know that something’s wrong; that something’s not working.
Check out the discussion below, where the directors touch on all sorts of topics: why horror is so popular, censorship (which I’ve already touched on), the importance and tediousness of shooting special effects, as well as the deeper themes that some horror films take on.
What are your opinions on censorship? Do you think horror films are cathartic, harmful, or neither? There are so many things to discuss here, so share your thoughts in the comments below.