Horror is easy to do. Good
Art is a subjective term, but I think Cronenberg hit the nail on the head when he said that art should be defined by intent. If you set out to create art, you've created art. "Piss Christ"
is art. I guess.
But so many see horror as "easy", a storm of blood and tits intended merely to titillate, closer to pornography than art (by which I guess I mean the Supreme Court's definition of pornography). Unfortunately, a lot of the people who feel that way decide to make horror films
and contribute to the degradation of the genre's image.
I'm not saying I don't like a good old mindless gore movie. But you can tell the difference between the writer-director who wanted to make a fun horror flick and the writer-director who just wanted to make a few bucks. You can tell when the love's there and when it isn't, whether or not you even like the movie.
For the clearest examples of that distinction, look no further than exploitation. You know exactly what you're getting into. Still, there are films in that subset which prove to be more than mere titillation. I'm not a big fan of The Last House on the Left
, but I see the distinction in Craven's story of parents driven over the edge. The black comedy bent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
made it a classic. And its remake, like that of The Hills Have Eyes
, seemed to have been made with an affection for the source material, which is why I like those two movies.
Even if it's a case like the original Friday the 13th
, where Sean Cunningham was just looking for that quick buck, you can still tell (I think so anyway) that someone
gave a damn. The slasher is most maligned because it has a simple, winning formula that barely requires effort to execute. And dozens of filmmakers use it every year. Still, every so often a slasher tries harder, and it stands out for that intent.
Good horror can be made (and found) in every subset. But is it art? Well, ask the guys who made it.