October 14, 2008 With Barack Obama poised for an easy win in this year's presidential election, what can horror movie fans expect under a new Democratic Administration?
According to Lucius Gore, editor of esplatter.com, "we'll get the same kind of horror movies we saw during past Democratic presidencies -- crap."
The editor of ESPlatter.com since 1999, Gore has noticed a link between the quality of horror movies and the party that controls the United States White House. During the Republican Eisenhower presidency, horror movies were at at a peak, with such films as "Psycho," "Blood Feast" and the "Horror of Dracula" playing American drive ins.
"It sounds crazy but it's true," Gore says. "Fans know that horror was especially bad during the Clinton 1990s, but look even farther back in history. During the JFK/Lyndon Johnson years, horror movies took a noticeable nose dive. 'Psycho' and 'Blood Feast' came out during the waning months of the Eisenhower Administration, followed by a noticeable drop in quality. Then, with the election of Richard M. Nixon in 1968, horror movies began their greatest period with such films as 'Last House on the Left,' 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' 'The Omen,' Ken Russell's 'The Devils' and 'The Exorcist' hitting screens. 'Night of the Living Dead' came out as Nixon was beating his opponent in the '68 election."
Nixon's resignation and Jimmy Carter's election in 1976 began a temporary downward trend in horror, Gore says. "You had some classics during the Carter years, including 'Halloween' and 'Dawn of the Dead.' But the period was marked by real clunkers, like 'The Curse of Bigfoot', 'The Sentinel' and 'The Incredible Melting Man.' Some pretty silly stuff. The Carter years weren't true Democratic years, so the genre didn't take a total nosedive. His election was kind of a fluke, brought about by the aftermath of Watergate."
The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1988 began one of the longest running bull markets of the horror genre. "You had the entire 'Friday the 13th' franchise, the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' series, 'Re-Animator,' 'Scanners', 'The Thing', 'Return of the Living Dead', 'Child's Play' -- classics were a dime a dozen during the Reagan era. Icons like Chucky and Pinhead were created. The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 brought that to a crushing end. The Clinton years saw garbage like 'Bordello of Blood' with Dennis Miller. We are talking the weakest era in the genre. It was especially bad in the early 1990s when Democrats controlled both the White House and the legislature.
"Maybe something happens to the public consciousness under Democratic administrations," Gore says. "Democrats are less likely to believe in the supernatural and aren't as concerned with the problem of 'evil doers.' Whatever the reason, horror films tend to get worse under them. History doesn't lie. The Clinton years were a nightmare for horror fans."
Things turned way around with the election of George W. Bush. "The 2000s have been a bull market for horror: 'The Descent,' 'Freddy vs. Jason', 'Dog Soldiers', 'Quarantine', 'Grindhouse,' 'The Devil's Rejects'. The genre is back on top."
Now, with a Democrat poised to take over the White House again, Gore fears the horror genre will take another nosedive. Barack Obama has already hinted at putting restrictions on horror when he's in the White House. During a primary debate early this year, he remarked: "... I'm also concerned,you know ,some of the violent, slasher horror films that come out. You see a trailer and I'm thinking 'I don`t want my six year old or nine year old seeing this that trailer while she's watching 'American Idol.'"
A McCain-Palin victory, however, would mark a tremendous upswing in the genre, the likes of which fans have never seen before, Gore says. "It ain't gonna happen, but if it did, you can bet the genre would get even stronger under President Sarah Palin. Oh well, maybe we'll see her back in the running in four years."
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