A few years ago I began to really get into classic horror films – the classic material going back to the 1930’s, including the original Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, etc. I’ve become quite the fan, amassing a respectable collection of the best Universal and Hammer films released. I still have a long way to go both in terms of my horror classics education and collection, but for a fan of just a few short years, I’ve gotten a good start.
The other day while carving pumpkins for Halloween, a friend’s 13 year old son said that he had seen the original "Halloween" and didn’t think it was scary. I found this strange, since I saw the movie for the first time two years ago and it had me on the edge of my seat. He continued to explain that it wasn’t scary because they didn’t "show anything" – and by "anything" he meant "blood and guts."
The whole debate about "slasher" vs. "suspense" has been argued since the first horror movie was released, so I have no delusions that I might put it to rest here. While the blood and gore has its place in horror movies, the best thing is still the suspense, mystery and unknown that is inherent in nearly all great horror movies.
To me, it is the difference between nightmares and being able to fall asleep in the first place. Any good horror movie can give you nightmares. A REALLY good one will keep you from falling asleep in the first place. There is something far scarier not knowing what might be lurking in the dark than seeing someone’s guts spewed all over the place.