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Commentary: Empty plots butcher modern horror

Christina Collins Burton, Managing Editor

It is Halloween, a time I usually like to celebrate by going to see the latest installment of a horror movie franchise that studios love to beat to death.

This year it will be “Paranormal Activity 3,” which I have very little hope for.

Last year it was the final “Saw” film, which only confused me and made me very angry with the Jigsaw legacy.

I am beginning to notice a trend that I have been in denial about ever since I turned 14. Horror movies have turned to crap.

I have an extensive collection of horror movies and often swap titles with friends. Going through them now I notice I do not have a single horror movie that has been released after 2004.

The quality of scares has gone downhill drastically from the time I was a child to now.

As tempting as it is to go to a theater and listen to teenage girls scream at lights being turned on suddenly, I would probably end up leaving the theater with bloody temples from excessive rubbing.

In the 1980s, people flocked to the theater to see the budding genre of slasher films. Audiences now have “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Halloween” still handing out nightmares to first-time viewers.

These movies still terrify even my own mom.

Each of the films has villains so rich with background that you cannot help but take every slow step or sarcastic line to heart as real.

If you tried to go see a movie starring a machete-wielding villain in the theaters now, prepare for a flat background and even worse dialogue trying to explain the reasoning behind it.

Horror movies, especially slasher films, need little to no explanation behind why the killer is doing it.

Fans go to see the movies expecting one thing; dead teenagers strung up in horrifying ways.

If you see an advertisement showing a chainsaw being held by an unidentifiable bad guy, you expect to be wowed with heart-pounding chase scenes. Instead we get two hours of naked teens trying to sound out their lines.

Meanwhile they find every newspaper clipping imaginable on their attacker and end up killing him with a good three teens still alive.

Even classic films that have been remade, like “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street,” have lost their sting to the overwhelming need of reason. In Jason’s case, they took away all of his history and stuck it up on a shed wall with rusty pins.

Poor Freddy was outright called a child molester while Wes Craven made him out to be a creative murderer in the original story.

I say bring back the day when it was only Jamie Lee Curtis having a nervous breakdown after Michael’s body goes missing, or Robert England sharpening his claws on the children of Elm Street.

I am a horror movie junkie and I plan on staying that way forever, but if things continue this way, I might be rewatching movies from over two decades ago for the rest of my life.

Christina Collins Burton, a junior journalism major, is managing editor and editorial director of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at

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