Horror movies are notoriously overlooked when it comes to award season, especially within the Academy. For those who frequently watch horror movies, then you know all too well that the craft has a unique vision for entertainment and that sometimes, they are about much more than just the gore and violence.
Every horror movie has a story to it, whether it be a unique story that is perfectly grounded in reality like Silence of the Lambs or a fantasy supernatural story, like Zombieland. But what they all have in common is a story with a base set of rules that are unique to the film. Otherwise, it would just be anarchy.
It’s those stories that people within the Academy rarely take the time to see, or consider, when it comes time for the Oscars every year. That is something that horror fans have had to deal with for decades. What I’m trying to say here is that the Academy needs to pay more attention to what horror has to offer the cinematic arts.
Here is a list of 10 horror movies that should have had some consideration at the Oscars, but were snubbed by the Academy.
The Exorcist is one of those movies that actually got recognized by the Academy, and rightfully so. It got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1973, but it fell short on the final vote.
So the real gripe here is just what did it take for another film that came out that same year to beat The Exorcist? I guess it would go figure that it was an inferior movie by all standards, The Sting. Not that it wasn’t a good movie, it just did not have the caliber of presentation that The Exorcist had, nor the cultural impact that took place during the era.
To help put that into perspective, The Exorcist made nearly $233 million in the United States alone at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. Also, when adjusted for inflation, the film is the ninth highest grossing film of all time, coming in at $941 million.
That even had the influence of public scorn working against it, with news reports coming in of people passing out, women having miscarriages and ambulances being called in at the initial showings of The Exorcist. That is what kind of cultural impact it had on Americans in the early ‘70s.
There was, however, a redeeming value to that Oscar season, with screenwriter (and book author) William Peter Blatty getting an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as Robert Knudson and Chris Newman getting the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing.
Interview with the Vampire could have been perhaps one of the greatest achievements in cinematic vampire history at the time of its release in 1994. Accompanied by some visually stunning effects and incredible performances by strong characters originally created in the Anne Rice novel of the same name, Interview with the Vampire had some of the best storytelling of any films from that year.
— Anali Gastelum (@AnaliGastelum) December 2, 2016
It did not even get nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture or Best Actor (Brad Pitt), or even Best Supporting Actor (Antonio Banderas). Now even though I think Interview with the Vampire deserved some major recognition from the Academy for its achievement, that is not to say that the film that got Best Picture should not have won that year, which was Forrest Gump.
Two others that got nominated that year were Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption, which were also stellar films. But my gripe here is that Interview with the Vampire did not even get nominated while Four Weddings and a Funeral took second to top billing for the year. Seriously?
Also, why the hell did Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas not even get a nomination for Interview with the Vampire? Those two characters alone made the entire picture more worthy, besides the awesome effects (after the birth of Louis, the statue that moved, fearfully, ect.).
Rob Zombie’s Halloween way back in 2007 was truly a remarkable film. Now I know that some of you are going to hate me for saying this, or accuse me of blasphemy against the horror maestro himself, John Carpenter. But there is something to be said with how Rob Zombie handled his remake of Halloween.
— cool world (@Jamesdunn0) November 17, 2016
First off, John Carpenter did indeed create a masterpiece film in 1978 when he made the original Halloween. He created Michael Myers to become such a terrifying presence in the hearts of millions that the character went down in horror-lore as perhaps the most iconic in the history of the industry.
But as most of you may already know, Rob Zombie took the original material and filmed it in absolutely the opposite way. Carpenter’s Michael Myers was a product of nature. His sociopathy had nothing to do with his parents or how his family treated him. No matter who would have raised Michael Myers, he would have been a remorseless, emotionless killer no matter what.
Rob Zombie, on the other hand, created a new Michael Myers. This Michael was a product of nurture. He was not exactly the sociopath that everyone had thought him to be until his home environment turned him in to a violent, remorseless and psychopathic killer.
What Zombie did with Halloween back in 2007 was something that I considered to be truly original and creative. He backed off the Carpenter playlist and abandoned “nature,” instead favoring “nurture,” which explains why he spent so much time at the beginning of Halloween with Michael as a boy.
The transition of Michael in Halloween is what made the movie Oscar-worthy. A few scenes in particular would be after Michael killed his stepfather, sister and her boyfriend. Zombie directed a shot of Michael sitting in the cop car while we could see the flashing police lights swirling around, but everyone else was frozen like a mannequin. The camera panned to the right and we saw Michael, not frozen, while the sound plays out in the background. We saw the world young Michael saw through Zombie’s lens. It was a chilling effect to say the least.
That scene for me would have been enough to stand up and applaud, but Zombie wasn’t done with young Michael yet. The final scene at Smith’s Grove, the final step in Michael Myer’s transition, was a pulse-pounding moment where he killed the lady nurse and he screamed at his mother, but the sound was cutoff. That, for me, is what sealed the deal. Zombie had accomplished an Oscar-worthy film.
But again, Halloween and horror gut snubbed by the Academy.
Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) might just be one of the best vampire films ever made, with very few exceptions. Although the Swedish film is subtitled and bit of a chore to get through, that is just something else that made it great from the very beginning.
Let The Right One In (2008)
dir. Tomas Alfredson
— Jake (@jakeflinn) November 7, 2016
Horror fans love a good film that they sometimes have to think twice about what they just saw… or maybe even rewind it to see the scene again. That happens quite often in Let The Right One In, and not just because of the subtitles.
The film followed a young boy who was viciously bullied and it was displayed quite graphically on-screen. He befriends what he thinks is a young girl around his age, but she turns out to be something quite different. Although she is a vicious killer, and he knows it, they strike up a different kind of romance that transcends the ties that bind them.
Although Let The Right One In could have easily deserved an Oscar, it might not be the fault of the Academy on this one. Producers for the film did not submit it to the Oscar race, most notably in the category of “Best Foreign Language Film.” It did, however, win numerous awards from film festivals and awards circuits across the world.
There is an American version of this film, Let Me In, but it paled in comparison to the original Swedish film that was such an immense hit.
The Blair Witch Project was one of the most inventive horror films ever at the time of its release in 1999. If there is one thing that Academy likes, it’s independent films that show a raw and visceral portrayal of an authentic reality. Established members of the Academy have classically leaned toward independent film that shares a lens with reality, even it is scripted.
— Asrul Muzaffar (@asrulmm) December 26, 2016
Horror fans of The Blair Witch Project will tell you that even though there was a mild set of rules laid out for the actors/filmmakers in this movie, the true essence of the story is the fight for survival in a woods that had the added value of an ominous presence terrorizing them every step of the way. The suffering and pain was more than authentic, it was true to the nature of an incident like that.
Not only did The Blair Witch Project not get nominated for any Oscars, but it was actually nominated for a couple of Razzies, winning one for actress Heather Donahue.
But this just serves as another example of the Academy singling out horror as an outcast genre that only exists for underground and B-movie culture.
The Shining was what some may say Stanley Kubick’s true masterpiece, at least horror fans would see it that way. Although Kubrick did win awards and accolades for his other movies, The Shining will always be the pick for horror fans across the world.
The Shining was released in 1980 and featured Jack Nicholson in the lead role as Jack Torrance, opposite Shelly Duvall as Wendy Torrance and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance.
— Sean (@OddNMacabre) January 10, 2017
Even though Kubrick stayed true to many parts of Stephen King’s terrifying novel of the same name, the movie had varying degrees of separation that King himself called out. As a matter of fact, King has spoken out against Kubrick’s The Shining with various criticisms for not following more closely to his source material.
Fans of Kubrick’s The Shining will tell you that he made the movie his own and gave it the perfect alterations that seamlessly fit the on-screen narrative and chilled fans to the bone.
But, once again, the Academy overlooked this horror gem in 1980 and decided instead that Ordinary People deserved the Oscar. The Shining did not even get a nomination for any category that year.
The Dead Zone is another Stephen King horror classic transcribed to the big screen by film maestro David Cronenberg back in 1983. The film features strong visuals accompanied by incredible acting by a very young Christopher Walken.
Just watched The Dead Zone for the first time ever having no idea what it was about… holy balls! 😳 pic.twitter.com/XN6lbYmlhA
— School of Movies (@SchoolOfMovies) October 17, 2016
For those horror fans who need a refresher (as if, right?), the film is about a man who has a series of headaches and ends up in a car accident that leaves him in a coma for five years. When he wakes, he can see future, past and present events without being at the scene of an incident. Time is not a factor with his ability as he can transcend any portal and see what needs to be seen. That includes a house on fire, a long lost mother from World War II, a murderer, an ice hockey accident and the biggest event, a politician who becomes president and nukes the world.
Christopher Walken’s performance in the film was so intensely authentic that he should have alone been nominated and won an Oscar. But The Dead Zone as a whole was a truly intense film with extremely well written characters and vividly imaginative situations.
So what could have beaten The Dead Zone back in 1983? Just another inferior movie that was great, but not quite on par with The Dead Zone. That movie was Terms of Endearment.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula could potentially be considered the quintessential film in vampire horror, but there have been many movies that have matched the caliber of storytelling. But not many of them have matched the pure awesomeness in terms of production value that spared no expense in recreating Victorian-era London with so many imaginative visuals accompanied by incredible special effects for the time (1992).
— Carlo Chim (@carlochim) November 10, 2016
If that were not enough to pull in an Oscar nod, then how about the fact that Bram Stoker’s Dracula had Francis Ford Coppola at the helm? The director had previously pulled in two consecutive Oscars for The Godfather and The Godfather II.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula did get four minor Oscar nominations, winning three for Costume Design, Sound Editing and Makeup, but fell short of getting a nomination for Best Picture.
It Follows is another truly inventive piece of horror fiction that stands as a perfect contender for the Academy’s favorite sub-genre, independent. The film takes a low-budget approach to filmmaking and uses a stellar story that creates a whole new paradigm in horror as an art form.
— That Cold Shiver (@ThatColdShiver) December 9, 2016
The movie started off with a strong indication that the unknown entity was simply a slow walking apparition that can in some way get to you, but only after you slow down long enough to rest. Then, the damage it does to you is extreme and grotesque, thus leading the story to its main character, Jaime, who gets the affliction by having sex with a man who had “it” following him to start with.
The movie played out as a metaphor that closely grounds itself in reality by marking its victims by sexual identity. For lack of a better interpretation, It Follows serves as a caution tale for the dangers of young people being sexually active, kind of like contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
But once again, It Follows was overlooked by the Academy, presumably because it was a horror movie. To help put that into perspective, It Follows ranks at a stellar 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, certifying it fresh and worthy for a mature audience.
The Purge on this list of Oscar worthy horror movies might have you scratching your head for a moment, but if you look at it in context, it could just possibly be the most worthy (non) recipient of an Academy Award.
I’m doing a social media cleanse
Let the purge begin pic.twitter.com/16dIZLlVVL
— S I M O (@Finding_Simo) December 29, 2016
For all intents and purposes, The Purge is a horror movie. But the deeper message is that there is no supernatural entity in this film, nor an unexplained power at play. It is more grounded in reality in the sense that the filmmakers for The Purge saw this as a potential future worldview, which they could have reasonably assumed was shared by many fans of cinema.
The basic premise is that a new political party had emerged on the national scene in America and they instituted a new law that made all crimes, including murder, legal for 12 hours a year, a period of time known as “The Purge.”
The film told viewers that the political characters justified The Purge because it made crime statistics fall drastically throughout the year, conveniently not counting the night of the Purge.