Monday, May 02, 2005


Social mood takes a dark turn

Even in an age of war and terrorism -- or maybe because of it -- there are few things as comforting as a rousing Hollywood horror film, psychiatrists and moviemakers say.
As the mood of people in the U.S. turns darker we are going to see a lot more horror films and other manifestations of the change in psychology which preceeds a continuation of this bear market. It will be like the seventies all over again! Already there is a flood of horror coming out this summer.
This year, the studios are releasing no fewer than 12 scary flicks during the summer movie season, starting Friday with "House of Wax" and continuing with titles like "High Tension," "Dark Water" and "The Skeleton Key."

The tally is roughly double last year's and far above any season in recent years, according to box office trackers.
On page 8 of this report there is a discussion of movies which were popular during past bear markets. Dracula, Frankenstein and the werewolf were popular in the thirties and I remember zombie and gore matinees in the seventies; eventhough I was too young to see them. Anybody remember the magazine Fangoria? Social mood creates the desire to watch scary movies and to sell stocks.
Analysts say the sudden horror flick boom in part reflects a desire for American audiences to escape the real-world violence from Iraq and elsewhere that has featured so prominently in newspaper headlines and TV news. And Hollywood is only too happy to oblige.

"They allow you to engage in an experience that is, more or less, under your control," said Dr. Charles Goodstein of New York University Medical Center and past president of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York.

"It follows, then, that the viewing of a horror movie can act as a kind of soothing factor," he added. "It allows you to have -- in microcosm -- a situation that is very frightening, yet you can leave the theater alive and well."

I disagree, I think people are looking for entertainment that reinforces their subconscious anger and fear. This would be a very bad time for the next New Kids on the Block or Debbie Gibson to debut. One other trend I would point out is that a number of recent scary movies like The Ring and The Grudge have come out of Japan. The Japanese have had almost a decade and a half of declining social mood and you can see it in their movies. Now we are importing their horror in the same way we import their consumer goods.


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