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mutleyhyde
04-16-2003, 12:26 AM
A question became evident in another thread here about Manhunter and I posted this there, but I think it deserves a thread of it's own due to the topic's importance... and the fact that nobody replied to it in the other thread - you bastards. ;)

Q; Just what is a classic?

A; Like I know. ;)

Sometimes it's a hard call to drag some threads from General, or other forums into this one. I basically look at age, whether a film has lasting impact (or had mass impact at one time) and/or excellence in production. It's the combination of these three merits that I personally evaluate where to place my own threads, and when the need arises, to relocate other members' threads. Also, the absence of one criteria doesn't automatically rule anything out; let's say a film has an exellence of production but wasn't made all that long ago. While it may not be old, and has not had a chance to prove itself of lasting impact through the test of time, it could still be considered a classic based primarily on excellence of production. And with newer films, an exception could also be made for lasting impact depending on the film's mass impact at the time. That said...

Movies from the 60's and back aren't a problem. It's when we go into the '70s that we have trouble. There are several movies from this era that could be considered slashers, and a lot of movies from the era simply fall into General for whatever reason. I feel more than justified in dragging films like The Excorcist, The Omen, and The Stepford Wives in here because while they could be considered as being recent by some old geezers, the '70s in all actuallity was a long damned time ago! :lol:

It's when we get into the '80s that we begin to have trouble. Ahh, the '80s; harbinger of the preponderance of formulaic slashers. While many films of this era fall in that category and hence are easily relegated to the Slashers forum, there are some serious classics here, that have an excellence of production, have lasting impact - proven by the test of time, and can still be considered old by some of you pesky young whippersnappers out there. I feel justified yet slightly trepidatious relocating films like Alien, American Werewolf in London, and Hellraiser from General to Classics.

When it comes to the '90s and '00s, I pretty much leave well enough alone. While I personally feel films like Sleepy Hollow and From Hell, or even Brotherhood of the Wolf meet and exceed my requirement for excellence in production, they have not really had the chance yet to be proven by the test of time for lasting impact, and only the snottiest of young punks considers them to be old. :p My approach to these films is pretty much hands off of others' threads, but I might myself post threads on them here.

So basically, I feel that the forums here set a framework, but are not so defined as to be restrictive, nor do I think that they should be. If somebody wants to place a thread on Maniac in here rather than Slashers, hey, knock yourself out. Again, I haven't seen Manhunter, so I'll opt to take Rock's word for it and leave it here... until I get around to watching it. If I determine it's a pile of crap, it's out of here. ;)

Grim
04-16-2003, 03:38 AM
One of the most intelligent things i've ever read, you're exactly right.

Shannafey
04-16-2003, 04:24 AM
I feel a film is a classic, if it had a heavy influence on later films, both in look and feel, and in story and style. If it comes up in film conversations for years to come. If it is the kind of film you can watch over and over again, and at any time. If it's a film you keep upgrading, from vhs to laser to the umpteenth dvd incarnation ie: Evil Dead.

marioscido
04-16-2003, 06:26 PM
Authentic and authoritative are words usually associated with classic. The word is derived from the Roman era, where the highest position in society was called the 'classicus' in Latin.

Certainly, the lasting impact and influence of a film have much to do with how we define classic. "Halloween" is a classic, specifically because of its impact on the horror genre and its influence on the development of the slasher. But does it belong in the Classic Forum of horrordvd.com?

I think the folks who designed this site were thinking of classic in the sense of age - like a good bottle of wine. And I think that's ok, because this little corner of ours is the only place on this forum where people can drool over the forgotten films of the 1920s and 1930s (and beyond). And since there aren't many of us posting in this section, I think it's important to know that there is a place for these films in the ongoing conversations on the horror genre.

While one need not be restrictive about definitions, I think the Classic section should be recognized as a place where people discuss those forgotten films (or not) that do not make the top ten lists of most horror fans. I use forgotten here, not because the films are literally forgotten. On the contrary, classics are not forgotten films!! They are celebrated films. "Nosferatu," "The Wolf Man," "Night of the Demon" are not forgotten films, neither is "Them" or "Peeping Tom," but most people on this site prioritize contemporary horror over older films. One can regularly find comments like this: "I usually find older films dated, but this one was..." Older films tend to be discussed only if a new dvd is released. However, in other sections, contemporary films and directors have long ongoing discussions without any new dvds on the horizon.

I am not interested in discussions on the pros and cons of the new "Dawn of the Dead" remake. If that's important to some folks, good. But it isn't very important to me. "Dawn of the Dead" is a classic, but that discussion belongs in another section.

I would rather post threads in this section about the old gems of the horror tradition, with folks like Mutleyhyde, MaxRenn, and others who love and respect these films, even if we will always be in the shadows of the next huge thread on the new Rob Zombie movie. I've always been more comfortable on the margins anyway.

And while I love a good pint of beer, I would pick an old bottle of wine over beer any day. For me, this section is about how those wines, when opened, surprise you with their subtlety and style. But then again, beer can do that too - and it is more accessible.

MaxRenn
04-17-2003, 05:45 AM
Interesting topic - I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed here. It seems to me that there are two uses of "classic". One a loose term for all older movies like marioscido talks about, one a narrower definition for a film which "lasts" that mutleyhyde defines very well in his post. I think that in this forum we are using the first definition.

It is interesting that bonafide "modern" classics like Night of the Living Dead (36 years old) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (29 years old) are not discussed in this forum. That is probably because people saw those films when younger and identify them as being modern in their themes and sensibilities. So they get discussed in "General". Yet some of the Hammer films of the same era (late 60s onwards) are discussed here. Maybe their sensibilities and content do not seem too modern.

Personally, I'm happy discussing any film of any kind in this forum!

marioscido
04-17-2003, 07:08 AM
I don't think a classic should be reduced to age, but I will post threads here based on this definition, because the forum is set up in such a way.

You make a very good point MaxR. I guess Hammer films from the early 1970s are understood as being produced by a studio in decline. And so, the vintage dimension tends to take precedence. Both "Night of the Living Dead" and "TCM" were very new and groundbreaking for their times, and very much a product of the ethos of their times (Vietnam). They spoke to the anxieties of contemporary audiences in the late-60s early 70s in the same way "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" addressed anxieties about middle-class conformism in the 1950s. In this sense they are certainly classics. But as you have pointed out, threads on these films are never posted here. I think that's because they embody themes that are still very much alive in our own history - especially with the present war. They still seem very relevant to us now, close to our contemporary experiences.

I think classics have much more to do with this kind of impact than with age, excellent production, and mass appeal - although all of these can be important factors. Obviously, they are popular and appeal to many people because they speak to contemporary concerns. These concerns then translate into a historical perspective that continues to makes sense many years later. In this sense, I guess you could say that a classic is authoritative; it speaks to the anxieties of the times and also beyond them.

Some classics, like "Carnival of Souls" go unnoticed for many years, while some films, like "Poltergeist," while having much appeal at the time of their release, remain lightweight films.

I watched "Profondo Rosso" tonight. A classic of the giallo, a deeply important film in the development of the American slasher, and a film made during what is now called the "leaden times" in Europe - a time of deep pessimism, violence, and political unrest. In my books, it is certainly a classic; it speaks volumes about the Italy of the 1970s and continues to translate that reality for us almost 30 years later. Would I post a thread on it here? Or would I post a thread on "Nosferatu" (1922) in the Euro section? Why not. But I think I will stick to the narrow definition of classic that reduces it to age and post threads in this section on older films that don't get much coverage anywhere else. That's just my bias...

mutleyhyde
04-17-2003, 08:57 PM
Originally posted by marioscido
I think the folks who designed this site were thinking of classic in the sense of age - like a good bottle of wine.

Originally posted by MaxRenn
Interesting topic - I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed here. It seems to me that there are two uses of "classic". One a loose term for all older movies like marioscido talks about, one a narrower definition for a film which "lasts" that mutleyhyde defines very well in his post. I think that in this forum we are using the first definition.

Um, guys, I do appreciate your thoughts, really, but it seems to me you've missed my main point somewhere along the way.

To reiterate, age, cultural impact (both lasting impact and/or mass impact at one time, not necessarily mass appeal), and production quality, which includes all aestetic aspects of filmmaking (i.e., script, cinematography, acting, sets, etc.) all should go into your decision process of what to post here, not just age.

Just to point out, I'm the Classic Forum moderator, and have been since back when it was the Hammer fourm, after the Hammer Queen, HammerFanatic, went her own way. While I didn't help to create this site, I feel pretty confident that I have a good idea of what this forum should be. :)

There's no need to constrain yourself. If you post something somewhere and we move it, it's no big deal.

To touch on some specific examples...

Night of the Living Dead, and even the sequels, could definitely go here. Chainsaw would probably do better, as far as getting a conversation going, in Slashers, but I have absolutely no problem with anyone opening a thread on that bonafide classic here. :)

While I do think of Argento's films as classics, I think they definitely belong in Euro Horror.

There's no doubt Carnival of Sould belongs here, but I would think that Poltergeist could do well here or in General. That would be up to the individual poster. I might come in here from time to time and see it bare, okay, that's actually a lot ;) , and I might go harvest some modern classics out of General just to even things out.

I personally feel the Sci-Fi Horror such as 70s Body Snatchers and Alien would be fine here, although they could easily go in General as well.

Jason and Freddy, no matter how much you think they're classics, should go in Slashers. :)

As for those silent german expresionistic films, don't you dare put those in Euro!! ;) I think of "Euro Horror" defined as being more a style from the 60s and 70s, rather than simply films from that region. Nosferatu, Caligari and Dr. Mabuse, as well as any silent horror, all belong here. That ain't open for debate. :p

To sum up, if it's old, even if only slightly old, doesn't blatantly fall into the other niche forums, and it's kick ass (not "surfer dude" kick ass, but "snooty film snob" kick ass ;)), then post it here. This forum has been a deadbeat for too long folks... get posting!

marioscido
04-17-2003, 09:26 PM
In my previous posts, I was thinking out loud about definitions of "classic," outside of the boundaries of this forum. I'm happy to find out that this section was Hammer focused before it changed to classic. I did not know this. My reference to age was simply an observation based on what has been posted here since my arrival not long ago (Sept 2002). It was not meant to be presumptuous. The explanation, "Hammer, Universal, Hitchcock, Ed Wood, Silents, etc," lead me to this conclusion.

I respect the decisions you make with regards to what should be included in this section what should not. The intention of my posts was to provoke a conversation on "classic" as a wider category, not to attempt to change the framework you have set up for this section. I won't be posting threads on "Profondo Rosso" here soon!! Like I said twice already, I' m sticking to the oldies for this section.

mutleyhyde
04-17-2003, 09:43 PM
It's all good Mario! Like I said, I truly appreciate evreybodys input, I just don't want this thread to evolve into some misunderstanding of "how classics are defined by this forum". With your post and MaxRenn's, it seemed it could have taken that turn.

From the posts I've seen of yours Mario, you pretty much know what's up, so don't worry bud. http://www.horrordvds.com/vbulletin/images/icons/icon14.gif

MaxRenn
04-18-2003, 04:06 AM
Thanks mutley, I see where you're coming from. Like I said I'm not too worried which films we're discussing where and I'm sure you'll move threads around as necessary. You're right - this forum needs a little more activity.


Originally posted by marioscido
Both "Night of the Living Dead" and "TCM" were very new and groundbreaking for their times, and very much a product of the ethos of their times (Vietnam). They spoke to the anxieties of contemporary audiences in the late-60s early 70s in the same way "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" addressed anxieties about middle-class conformism in the 1950s. In this sense they are certainly classics. But as you have pointed out, threads on these films are never posted here. I think that's because they embody themes that are still very much alive in our own history - especially with the present war. They still seem very relevant to us now, close to our contemporary experiences.


mario, have you seen the documentary "American Nightmare"? It examines many of the classic horror films from NOTLD through Halloween in the context of the era in which they were made. It includes many great interviews with directors like Hooper, Craven, Cronenberg and Romero and gives a real insight into how the cultural and political climate of the times affected their movies. The resulting depth of these movies is what has made them last in impact and relevance. Maybe the current uneasy world climate will start a new cycle of "classic" horror films.

rhett
04-18-2003, 04:40 AM
To me, when I think classic, I think pre-1970. In my opinion, it takes years for a classic to truly be acknowledged and regarded as a true "classic". I see a film like PSYCHO as a classic, but a movie like FRAILTY, despite its obvious quality in production design and direction, should not be considered a classic.

This is just my opinion, but I think it is important that the Classic Forum not spread its wings too broadly to include films like Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To me those films are still very much contemporary and not "classic" in the traditional sense. I guess I kind of echo Mario in that the Classic Forum is important for recognizing those late, great Hammer, silents and the like.

By broadening the Classic Forum, it would more than likely shift the focus away from those old movies that deserve preserving. The Slasher Forum, for example, could easily be expanded to include the similar gialli films, but doing so would shift the focus away from an already minimal amount of slasher films.

Including films like ALIEN and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON would no doubt liven the Classic Forum, but I am not sure that is entirely a good thing. I think the inclusion of those modern favorites would take a bite out of the old films that deserve their own spot in the universe.

Of course Hyde, I am more or less just playing devil's advocate, so whatever you want to do is alright with me. I just want to make sure we look at both sides of the subject. :)

mutleyhyde
04-18-2003, 06:29 AM
No, I hear ya Rhett. As far as age goes, I pretty much would cut films off at the '60s as well, but there are some films of the '70s and '80s that, in my mind, are definite classics. The thing is that the '70s ushered in a new breed of filmmaking overall, not just in horror. The sacred triumvirate of The Excorcist, Rosemary's Baby and The Omen absolutely are classics. They're classics more on the merits of production value and mass appeal however, not so much for age.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the more modern a movie is, the more important the aspects of production value and mass appeal become in determining classic status. It's easy to consider Universal's The Wolf Man a classic, but did it have quite the level of impact on the filmgoing audience at the time as The Excorcist did? Of course, the more recent we get, the more strict we have to be on these other two aspects. I personally consider From Hell and Sleepy Hollow instant classics, but I would probably actually discuss them in General to be honest. I can't think of anything from the '90s off the top of my head that I would include here, let alone the '00s. I guess I'm starting to lean a bit towards determining a cut-off point at the '90s, but I really don't want to put restrictions on anybody. If somebody feels that they have a bonafide classic movie from the '90s to discuss here, I'd rather them feel that they can post it here and we'll figure it out as we go.

I guess as a rule of thumb, anything from the '60s back, that isn't clearly a slasher or Euro film (Bava belongs in Euro for sure, not here. Bava is definitely classic, but his stuff is pretty much the birth of what I consider Euro Horror) or Asian, would be safe here. Getting into the '70s and later, serious conderation should be paid to production value and cultural impact. Getting into the '90s, it's probably a safe bet it belongs in General.

Okay, I'm off to watch some Hammer. Latah! :cool:

mutleyhyde
04-18-2003, 06:33 AM
Oh by the way, thank you very much MrGrim! :)

marioscido
04-18-2003, 05:34 PM
Originally posted by MaxRenn
mario, have you seen the documentary "American Nightmare"? It examines many of the classic horror films from NOTLD through Halloween in the context of the era in which they were made. It includes many great interviews with directors like Hooper, Craven, Cronenberg and Romero and gives a real insight into how the cultural and political climate of the times affected their movies. The resulting depth of these movies is what has made them last in impact and relevance. Maybe the current uneasy world climate will start a new cycle of "classic" horror films.

No, I haven't seen it, but it sounds like I would probably enjoy it quite a bit. I will definitely look for it Max. Thanks for the tip. I love documentaries on the horror genre. There is a wonderful film, distributed by Kino, called "The Kingdom of Shadows," by Brett Wood (1998). It's narrated by Rod Steiger and it's about the mixture of horror and religious themes in the early years of cinema - silent cinema only. It looks at everything from Méliès to Murnau, from Griffith to Dreyer. Really worth a look. We should start a thread on horror documentaries!

mcchrist
06-02-2003, 09:31 PM
A classic for me has nothing to do with age, rather something becomes a classic when it affects or becomes integrated in the popular culture milieu.

EDIT: and a classic is born when these changes in the cultural environment become permanant. And a classic can become a classic even if it remembered for a single word, still, whatever.

Atmims
06-09-2003, 07:11 AM
A classic to me is an old, boring, black and white movie. :D

Nah, Really I agree with almost exactly what Rhett said but I would say pre 1960 would be considered classic. I've always considered the classic forum to be all about the older movies, 40-50 years old.

Deaddevilman
07-20-2003, 07:56 AM
A 1966 Ford Mustang!;)

r_burgos2003
07-23-2003, 04:59 PM
atmosphere

Rock
10-01-2003, 10:41 PM
I just watched PEEPING TOM last nite for the 1st time and, while I can just imagine it was outrageous in its day, time has not been kind to this classic, especially after you've seen something brutally modern like IRREVERSIBLE...if I NEVER watch that one again, it will be too soon...

etale
11-19-2003, 10:27 PM
I'd say that a film to be a classic, it needs to stand the test of time.
I'd say give 'em 10-20 years at least.

Deaddevilman
01-08-2004, 03:02 PM
I just watched PEEPING TOM last nite for the 1st time and, while I can just imagine it was outrageous in its day, time has not been kind to this classic, especially after you've seen something brutally modern like IRREVERSIBLE...if I NEVER watch that one again, it will be too soon...

If you like Peeping Tom, try The Naked Kiss.

Smartt
06-25-2004, 04:24 AM
Classics aren´t made; they escape.

Baron Meinster
07-15-2004, 08:12 PM
Reading the posts in this thread make me wonder if movies could be considered classics if they have certain actors in them. For example, things with Lon Chaney Snr in will almost certainly be classics due to the age of them, whereas some of Peter Cushing's later films (apart from a few of them being awful) may not appear as they did not come out until the '80's (although I don't think anyone would doubt that his seminal Hammer films are classics). Again, because Christopher Lee's career covers such a huge timespan, I wouldn't necessarily put his later stuff in, but those of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff would be naturals.

I do think that most of Hammer's '60's offerings (i.e. Brides of Dracula to Taste the Blood of Dracula) should be considered classics, judging on the criteria of age, production values and influence, but I wouldn't put something like Dracula AD 1972 (as much as I love the film in a perverse way) down as a classic.

RichardHaines
11-13-2004, 11:22 AM
There seems to be conflicting definitions here in terms of what is a classic.

I'll define it as a movie that remains effective and emotionally absorbing over the decades. As I see it, the best horror films (or movies of any genre) are those that are character studies. It's vitally important that
the audience empathizes with the people in the story so that when terrifying things happen to them, they feel as if it's happening to them too. Thus, classics with timeless impact are films like "Psycho", "Night of the Living Dead", "The Exorcist" and "Carrie" since a great deal of the screen time was spent developing the characterizations. The shocks and gore scenes came out of the narrative and were not put in for mere effect.

Films that have not withstood the test of time artistically are pictures like "Friday the 13th". The reason is that they went solely for the shock effect of the moment which might have been fun in the eighties but seems rather tame now. Since characterization is scant or non-existent in these type of horror films, they lose their effectiveness and I don't consider them classics.

I don't agree that a classic is a picture that has a cultural impact. That, in itself, is of interest historically but is one of the factors that
tends to date movies for the long run. For example, you could say that
movies like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" has tremendous cultural impact at the time but now seems very pretentious and 'much ado about nothing' now since attitudes have changed. In the horror genre, films like "Mark of the Devil" were considered shocking decades ago but today have special effects that are not that impressive and the story and chracterization are of no interest.

I'm not suggesting that the typical or formulaic slasher or gore film from the past is not worth a look and cannot be enjoyed as an 'antique' genre film but the term 'classic' should not be applied providing you agree that the word implies a film that falls into the category of cinematic art.

As I've stated in my two books, one of the problems I have will all post-1970 films is the poor color cinematography. Prior to the seventies, the use of color was an integral part of the narrative. You cannot discuss movies like "Vertigo" or "Bonnie and Clyde" without noting their unique color cinematography and thier impact on the story. In the seventies, the use of color tended to be functional. Today, I find most movies aesthetically ugly to watch with de-saturated color and fleshtones. It's certainly difficult to compare a movie like "Minority Report" with "2001: A Space Odyssey" and not note the quality difference in both the style of lighting and use of color. The latter is a work of art and the former looks like a murky dupe. The overall preponderance of de-saturated/bluish cinematography is so many current films makes me wonder if the cameramen are color blind.

kakayospectre
01-21-2005, 09:59 PM
i prefer classics that are made by great film masters.

those classics that build up slowly to teh watcher, untill like a huge wave they crash on you.
Or in this case the viewer has a cold wave of shock wash down on them at teh prime grabbing point in it.

GOTCHA!

Criswell
01-25-2005, 03:13 PM
To me it's:

A: Significant historical importance.......Birth of a Nation, Jazz Singer,

B: Changes Audience perception and film progression........Star Wars, Blood Feast, Frankenstein.

Adam13
01-29-2005, 12:18 AM
Re-Penetrator is destined to be a classic....

Marclar
09-07-2005, 10:31 PM
Simplicity in plot and some cinematographical (is that how you psell it) talent.
Its all about the spirit...Look at The Fog or Evil Dead....these movies have got the spirit in the setting and the vibe you get from the way its acted out. This is why I can come back to watching these movies many many times.

Atmims
09-09-2005, 03:19 AM
I got to thinking about this question yesterday, to have a more personal definition of what makes a classic film.

I realized that all the films I consider classics are made up of distinct qualities. When I think of a classic I immediately think of those special qualities that make it great. Like everything that makes Dawn of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead and not just some zombie movie. You know a classic when you see one because it should go beyond being just another genre movie and stand alone in being great.

It's not the cultural impact that MAKES the classic. This just helps to establish the classic's STATUS. It's not the age that MAKES them either. There's always been mediocre films, it's just that most classic films have survived time because of what makes them great and we forget all the rehash. If the film is good because of it's distinctive qualities it will stand the test of time and be remembered.

A while back, a friend on the cultstitch.com message board asked why there is such a lack of possible classics nowdays and this is the exact reason. You can't make a classic or even a very good film when your just giving people the same tired ideas or this years hash.

Erick H.
09-09-2005, 06:32 AM
I think a film needs to stand the test of time to truly be considered a classic.''Classic" is a word tossed around lightly these days.People run out giggling after a movie with a big grin on their faces talking about how "that ones a classic !" Well......O.k.,you enjoyed it,thats great,but lets give it a little time.See it again.I've known people to drop a movie from "classic" status to "crap" in less than a month,sometimes in a week ,upon a second viewing !

If you can sit down and watch a film for the 10 or 20th time and still enjoy it just as much(if not more) than you did the first time,thats a good sign.If you remember it vividly,if your eyes light up at the mention of its' title a decade after you saw it.Thats a good sign.If it has elements that lesser pics break their necks scrambling to imitate,thats a very good sign.If it's original,you can bet your ass someones gonna try and steal from it !
Remember,this years hot ticket could be almost forgotten in two years,sometimes a film is very "of the moment" but looks badly dated soon after.The best of them,the true classics,cast a spell that lasts a lifetime.Box office isn't the sole measure of success,shelf life is longer lasting .

The Chaostar
10-16-2005, 01:47 AM
Yeah, Erick I'm with you. Classic is what defies time.

Criswell
04-28-2006, 11:24 PM
yeah.......its an intangible thing.

Same for the term CULT CLASSIC. Thats even tougher. Cause they can be both good or bad films.

baggio
05-01-2006, 07:40 PM
I always looked at it as the highest ranking possible. A product of pure excellence. So referring to films, it would be 5 star category. Movies that are the best of the best that will last the test of time.

I think we get caught up in that "classic" is mostly B&W films. Because quite frankly thats where there were quite a few films that held in this standard of pure excellence.

You have to watch some of those films and compare them to any A+ movie now to see what I mean.

To use cars for an example. Some late models were like moving works of art, compared to the unoriginal crap that we have out today.

Angelman
05-13-2006, 05:42 AM
It is really hard to say... if you read through this thread everyone has a really strong basis for their opinion.

I tend towards the definition of a classic as something that has worked its way into the cultural lexicon.

The one thing I somewhat disagree with is that classics have to have a certain technical excellence. I think we would all call Dracula (1931) a classic but in reality it is a very poorly made film (Karl Freund's outstanding cinematography notwithstanding). The reviews at the time were not overly kind. BUT... over time Bela's euro-accented line readings and cape became iconic and - poof - a classic is born. By that standard - could we not call Nightmare on Elm Street a classic? Is Freddy not the Dracula of the 80s?

Criswell
10-18-2007, 01:58 PM
By that standard - could we not call Nightmare on Elm Street a classic? Is Freddy not the Dracula of the 80s?

No. Dracula was/is a vampire.

Freddie the the bastard son of a 1000 madmen.....:evil: :p

Horrorfan
02-28-2008, 07:22 AM
What makes a classic? Here is my version of the answer. Any horror or sci-fi horror film between the silent era and 1968. Which was the year of the Classic Horror film in History,Night of the Living Dead. Call me mad but think about what the film did:

Took zombies away from the Voodoo roots and made them into cannibals craving human flesh.

Reset the standards for leading men by casting a black man in the role.

Snapped us out of the fairy tale ending we were so use to from Hollywood with an ending that is still talked about today.

Now sure there have been many films since this one that turned up the gore or ended with a shock but it all comes from this single and important moment in Horror history. There has been nothing since it's release that can even come close to equaling the impact it had.

Horrorfan
02-28-2008, 07:30 AM
I personally have a passion for Classic Horror and Sci Fi Films.My mom told me at the tender age of 3 I grew attached to Dracula and now at 30 I refuse to let go of them. I don't want people telling me the oldest Horror movie they ever saw was Halloween. That sends my right to my collection to show them what there missing. Who knows maybe they will show some friends and they will show friends etc.. and a new Horror boom for classics would begin.

X-human
02-28-2008, 08:26 AM
I always think of horror in terms of before and then after Night of the Living Dead. There was a build up with the more science based horror of the 50's but these all retained classic horror sensibilities. Hitchcock's Psycho was perhaps the first modern horror film but although it was revolutionary it didn't catch on. For the most part horror movies continued along the same path.

It wasn't until Night of the Living Dead that filmmakers caught on with how it's done. I'm still not quite sure what really makes the difference. I still consider NotLD classic horror but it's different somehow. Cannibals as the result of science wasn't knew to horror, Hammer's The Revenge of Frankenstein had it ten years earlier. I don't think the fact of a black lead changed perceptions of how horror can be done. Neither was the anti-fairytale ending the difference maker as horror has had a legacy of tragic endings.

No I think it's the straight forward realistic narrative of these elements. Horror was always fantastical before, at least theatrical. Night of the Living Dead took efforts to make things real. They showed news footage and gave characters simple down to earth problems like try to get gas. Zombies seemed more real that way. That was the true horror, the idea that society could break down because of a freak event not evil forces conspiring against us.

Before horror was about losing your soul. Even sex crimes were seen as losing one's chastity. It was about good versus evil. Night of the Living Dead was just about trying to survive. The undead weren't presented as hell bound just re-animated corpses, machine like really. They were mindless, not evil.

I think that's the way modern villains are portrayed now, "bad" but not "evil" real evil. It's a product of modern psychology I think. No matter how many times Donald Pleasence says Michael Myers is "evil" and no matter how fantastic his feats are modern sensibilities work against this. He's seen more as a psychopath than anything else.

Perhaps this is why many modern audience struggle with the idea of pure "evil" of classic films. There's no power in it. Audiences don't buy it anymore.

dwatts
02-28-2008, 09:31 AM
I always avoided this thread because I didn't want to have to think about it too much. However, for what it's worth, I have never thought of Night of the Living Dead as being a central piece in the evolution of horror. Zombies created by science of some kind wasn't all that unusual prior to NOTLD.

But as I say, I'd rather not think about it too much in case my head explodes.

Ash28M
02-28-2008, 05:12 PM
If I had to pick a film that would signify the divide between Classic Horror and modern horror. Night of the Living dead would be that film.

X-human
02-28-2008, 06:29 PM
However, for what it's worth, I have never thought of Night of the Living Dead as being a central piece in the evolution of horror. Zombies created by science of some kind wasn't all that unusual prior to NOTLD.

But as I say, I'd rather not think about it too much in case my head explodes.

:D

Yeah it's not the fact that NotLD "created" the mainstream view of zombies today that makes it the focal point of the change from classic to modern, it's more about how it was done. Even the "how" it was done by NotLD wasn't THAT original. I think a lot of its elements can be seen in Godzilla '54/56 for example.

What I think caused the domino effect was how simple but effectively it was done in NotLD. Put some pancake mix on a few faces, put together a few simple but believable news broadcast to explain the plot and give the characters simple yet realistic challenges like boarding up windows and running for their lives. I think film makers used this as a jumping off point. The rules were changed.

TCM only briefly used news outlets to pitch the plot. For the most part TCM takes for granted that you've seen movies like NotLD. They've built off movies like Psycho and The Boston Strangler, two movies that used the whole movie to develop that mindset. Once audiences "got it" we've been running off of those set rules since.

dwatts
02-29-2008, 07:05 AM
Probably something to do with the prominence of TV at that time more than anything else, no? I mean, we'd had decades of spinning newspaper headlines prior to that - but most people would have gotten their news through newspapers, so it was more "real" for the audience. By NOTLD, people mostly got their news from TV.... so maybe it was simply changing times, and reflecting how things were done at the time. For instance, there have been some films made today that feature news comin through cell phones or the Internet....?

X-human
03-01-2008, 06:41 AM
Probably something to do with the prominence of TV at that time more than anything else, no?

My point is not the fact that it was TV, just that they used the mundane so extensively. Can you think of any movies before that hinged so much on degrees of separation? Placing the main character on some farm house in the middle of nowhere where nothing of the overall problem is ever addressed none the less solved? NotLD is about a microcosm of the larger problem. Movies were always about fighting the larger problems, not focusing on the trickle down effects.

For example, if Night of the Living Dead had been produced by Hollywood both Ben and Barbra would have probably been scientists. After the graveyard scene Barbra would have gone to a lab somewhere where she'd meet Ben, then we'd see a military engagement where they'd loose but we'd figure out it was aliens controlling the zombies. Then Barbra and Ben would use some scientific deus ex machina in a final decisive battle.

I know someone somewhere will be able to name films that have done it before, but this movie really hit the reset button for the rest creating a down to earth view horror films have since adapted. It's no longer about protecting the world from Dracula or Dr. Frankenstein. NotLD wouldn't have even been a line item in a news paper in the context of that movie. A rather novel idea at the time. Any other horror movie before that would have been about what was headline making in the context of its own setting.

Horror movies today still focus on headline making stories I agree, but what's at stake is much lower. The end game isn't that Dracula, the greatest evil that ever roamed the earth, no longer exists. All that matters now is that, quite simply, the last girl's still standing. Simple. Mundane. Down to earth.

Horrorfan
03-01-2008, 08:13 AM
Glad to see I got a reaction out of some folks on here.

Ghostkeeper
05-05-2009, 01:46 AM
Ingredients for a classic:
Good script,Bonafide acting,Nice cinematography,Excellent score, an interesting subject matter and a helluva director.

Mix all ingredients in to good film stock and shoot until done.

oaxaca
03-25-2010, 06:09 PM
Peter Cushing? :p

jenniferm
12-03-2011, 09:17 PM
Most classics I've seen were during my childhood. Probably the experience of seeing something new that you didn't understand and made a impact on you at the time. It usually starts with a good harmony in music, acting and story.

DVD-fanatic-9
12-06-2011, 06:55 PM
To me, when I think classic, I think pre-1970.
In general, that's my definition too. Except the year of 1970 is so closely linked to 1969 and the line is so blurred. For example / best example is Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. If you wanted to classify it as horror, there are sources saying it's a 1970 film while others claim it's 1969.

I'm being very literal there, yes. Personally, I say 1968. Since that was the year of both Rosemary's Baby and Night of the Living Dead. That way, all of Romero's and Argento's full length films are prominently featured in the more contemporary post-classic era.

NaNa
08-28-2012, 12:47 PM
Influence plays a major role in classic and I would consider The Shining (1980) as one of the best example.

This movie has been receiving some good praising for a long long time. And also it has influenced many movies in that genre.

Steve Freeling
12-28-2013, 03:36 AM
When I think of a classic, I think of a movie that's at least 20 years old with a great plot with real meaning to it, a well-written script, top-notch acting, quotable lines, and unforgettable characters that stands up to repeat viewings and stays in your memory long after it's over.
For example:
Poltergeist (1982) ★★★★★
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) ★★★★★
The Razor's Edge (1984) ★★★★★
Forrest Gump (1994) ★★★★★ (it is almost 20 years old)
Jurassic Park (1993) ★★★★★
The Fugitive (1993) ★★★★★
Regarding Henry (1991) ★★★★★
A Christmas Story (1983) ★★★★★
Home Alone (1990) ★★★★★
Jaws (1975) ★★★★★
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) ★★★★★
Groundhog Day (1993) ★★★★★ Big (1988) ★★★★★
Vacation (1983) ★★★★½

Also, possibly any 4½- to 5-star movie might be considered a classic.

maybrick
12-28-2013, 05:04 AM
My tenth grade teacher defined a classic as "of it's time". Supposedly that meant if somebody like Romero made Night of the Living Dead in 1948 instead of 1968 it would have immediately been shelved and not seen the light of day for decades. Eventually it might be noticed, but not before something else had taken it's place in history. At that point, it would cease to be a true "classic" and instead be a "too bad, woulda coulda" cult phenom. Sort of like Spider Baby became. Never quite hit the big leagues.

But my tenth grade teacher was kind of a dick. So screw him.

elDomenechHDG
12-28-2013, 05:42 AM
"Looper" has the makings of a "future classic". I saw it upon first theatrical release and thought it was OK. Saw it again on Blu-ray and was blown away by it. I think the film could be listed among the best films of the last 20 years. That's the definition of "classic" in my book.

X-human
12-30-2013, 11:53 PM
I think of a classic as fairly timeless, something that engages the audience no matter when it was made and when it is shown. Now some "classics" can be like time capsules but they're able to communicate the time when they are made universally. A bad time capsule would just confuse an audience of different eras, so the occasionally well done time capsule shouldn't define all "classics" as such.

There's something about the original King Kong that will let it live on past the '76 remake and the '05 remake. Doesn't matter that it's B&W and uses stop motion. It's also not like someone can walk away from the original with much of an idea how '33 really was either (it hardly hints at the depression for example). What it is however is told in an engaging way and will continue to find its audience.

Anaestheus
12-31-2013, 05:09 AM
For me, "classic" would mean representative or emblematic of a particular "class" of something. So, in the case of films, say "Bird with the Crystal Plumage" would be a classic of the giallo genre because it contains and/or helped establish all the elements that would typify the giallo genre. There is also a bit about all the elements being handled really well. But, basically, if someone asked you what _____ types of films were like, the "classic" would be the one that you would recommend first.

So, some modern films can probably be considered classic. I think "300" will get that reputation in time as it will be remembered as the first film that really exploited and showed off the potential of this new realm of digital film making. Even though films like Sin City, Sky Captain, and to some extent, the later Star Wars films all tread the ground first, "300" will probably be remembered as the first film where it all came together. Similarly, while the Spaghetti Western had been around for years, it's really Leone's films that represent the best that the genre had to offer.

While it's easy to think of the older classics, I am sure that many contemporary films like Lord of the Rings, Nolan's Batman films, Pixar's Toy Story trilogy will all be easily held as classics as the decades roll on.