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Modern Horror Looks to Past for Inspiration

The genre which once embraced slasher killers, zombies and torture porn now obsesses over recreating the past. Consider “Annabelle,” “The Woman in Black,” “The Conjuring” and this week’s “Stonehearst Asylum” as examples of thrillers set decades ago.

For a while, modern horror movies took place in the here and now. That allowed the young and beautiful cast members to don the trendiest clothes. All the better to appeal to today’s ticket buyers, who still skew young.

No longer.

Now, it’s hip to rock ’60s era fashions like Annabelle Wallis does in “Annabelle” or sport a corset like Kate Beckinsale manages with elan in “Asylum.”

The upcoming sequels to “The Conjuring” and “The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death” promises to keep that trend alive into the new year and beyond.


One significant advantage to retro horror tales is the dearth of technology. “Final girls” can’t text pals for help when an ax-wielding maniac is chasing them. Nor can they tap Google Maps to find their way back from a creepy, dead end street.

Stripping away social media allows characters to interact in ways that make them more human to audiences. After all, the more we care about the people about to be skewered, the more we scream when the blade first punctures their skin.


  1. Filmmakers should continue to look back even further, to the films of the Thirties, Forties and the Silent Era, to see how good horror is properly done. Two classics, The Wolf Man and The Mummy, are playing in select Canadian theaters this week, a must for any horror or general film lover.

    1. Whale’s “Bride of Frankenstein” is my favorite classic film. I remember seeing it as a young adult, uncut for commercials, on my local PBS station. It brought tears to my eyes and made me hate the villagers and love the monster.

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