Where do you draw the line between old and modern horror films? It’s easier, perhaps, to pick out classics from any era, but some of my younger peers have an annoying habit of tagging movies I saw in high school as “old.” (Hi, Ash) So okay, let’s discuss.
I base my definition of “modern” on a study of technique, technology, and modern mass appeal. Taking all of those into account, I traditionally draw the line between “classic” and “modern” horror at 1973–specifically, THE EXORCIST. I would argue that except for some funky haircuts, THE EXORCIST could be projected in a theater today and hold the attention of modern audiences without many outdated elements distracting from the experience. It’s shot in modern widescreen, offers a modern soundtrack mix, features editing, pacing and special effects still acceptable today (though it lacks that frustrating quick cut element of the most modern films–which is good thing) and maintains most of its shock value and horrific nature.
If you go back a few more years from 73, you hit the wonderful Roger Corman era with Vincent Price‘s over-the-top antics and pop-off-the screen technicolor that clearly shows its age. And as much as I love the Hammer Films, the cheesy acting and four-chord four-octave music progressions are dead giveaways they go back quite a while.
Sure, the 80s were known for an extended “slasher” period, and I suppose that forms it’s own “classic” subgenre, but I maintain more movies from that era would pass muster than not.
Of course this is just one old(er) man’s opinion. What’s yours? Feel free to discuss in my comments.