In the last few years, there has been a stealthy movement in the horror industry few have been able to pick up on. There is a movement away from CGI and back toward the use of traditional makeup and special effects.
This movement is taking the industry out of the hands of programmers and putting it back into the hands of horror creators. Fans should celebrate, since their collective voice is being heard.
The Big Screen Cause
"Paranormal Activity" reminded Hollywood how small filmmakers can make a terrifying movie without having access to the programmers who create the CGI effects for movies. The techniques used in the original were not groundbreaking; they were techniques that had been used to scare us for years.
The arrival of "Paranormal Activity" began opening the eyes of studio executives, leading to a few important outcomes.
The Big Screen Primary Effect
Ever since "Paranormal Activity" came out, the major studios have been looking for small-budget horror movies which could be the next "PnAct." In the last few years, I have been to a handful of horror conventions where studio scouts I know have snuck in unannounced to see the homemade, micro-budget movies shown at the film festivals accompanying the event.
It is not a secret Hollywood is looking for the next micro-budget movie to buy and turn into a cash cow phenomenon.
The Big Screen Secondary Effect
Smaller budget horror movies are getting more of a chance right now than they had been in years. Studios are more likely to take a chance on horror in the hopes the movie will become a viral sensation and line pockets with gold.
Recent micro-budget horror movies like "Silent House" and "The Innkeepers" are drawing the market's eye away from CGI and putting it back on the old horror techniques for telling a story and using basic special effects to emphasize the story.
The Small Screen Cause and Effect
The SyFy Channel has been placing the focus on makeup and special effects through shows like "Face-Off" and "Monster Man." These shows are likely to strike a chord with many aspiring makeup and special effects creators and teach them some of the techniques to get themselves noticed.
With the ease of adding impactful moments in horror using CGI, there is an uphill battle for makeup and special effects artists. Show like these, though, can help them raise their collective voices and continue to draw the eyes of Hollywood away from the programming firms and into the studios of those who prefer to scare us the old fashioned way.
Impact on the Genre
George Romero became one of the most important figures in horror through his original "Dead" trilogy. When he returned to zombie movies with 2005's "Land of the Dead," many of his fans rebelled over the use of CGI instead of the traditional makeup and special effects that made him a genre darling.
"Land of the Dead" woke up many horror movie fans to how CGI was killing the traditional tricks of makeup and special effects in horror. It was the watershed moment when fans, like me, realized it was time to speak up -- and many horror creators heard our cries. We want our genre back, and Hollywood is obliging.
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