Hollywood has lost it's touch. The entity that used to create eternal classics, moving people, playing with their emotions, fears, joys and thoughts, has lost most of it's essence and is stuck in gimmicks and special effects. Most new movies released have no novel stories, most repeated from previous ones, and besides the visuals, hardly any produced these days can be considered 'classic' material.
A strong contender for a genre that has gone down the drain is horror. Today's horror movie doesn't scare; sure, you have the scenes that are dark and quiet, with all of a sudden something happening to make you jump, but nothing really terrifying. And somehow, horror isn't about horror anymore; it's about more blood and gore. Movies like the Saw series, for example, are full of the most disgusting ways to cut up/kill/torture a person, but all that does is make you cringe in your seat. Again, nothing really scary about that, just a little revolting.
On the other hand, I was watching TV last night when on came an old 70's classic horror movie, 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'. Now obviously, movie titles have improved since the 70's, but the scare factor in this movie is a good 10/10. The scary parts weren't the moments that made you jump, or the occasional bloody scene. Nope; this whole movie put you into a situation that slowly grew and grew, making you (along with the main characters) feel less helpless as the movie goes along. Humans are being cloned into mirror images of themselves, just ones that have no feelings, while the original person dies away. Slowly, the disease takes over all of the city (country, world?) while our main characters try to figure a way out of the situation. Being scientists, they try to find a solution, and contact the authorities (police, FBI and so on) to support them, but as the movie keeps going they start realizing that even the authorities have been taken over, and they start to run. The more they run, the more they realize the extent to which this disease has taken over, and it starts to get to them slowly, one by one. Just the feeling of helplessness that develops as you watch is enough to warrant this movie an award.
There's one scene where they realize how the transformation actually takes place, and that has got to be one of the freakiest things i've seen on TV for quite a while (I won't spoil it here, go watch the movie). The whole process happens when you sleep, so after the characters figure this out, they try their best to stay awake (but how long can you last before giving in?) The whole aura of a cold San Fransisco, the 70's clothes, the grainy, dull colors of the movie, and the off-beat background music only serves to support the whole freaky atmosphere of the movie.
Seriously, here's a movie that reaches out and puts you in a really scary situation, and gets you wondering what you would do if something similar would happen. Another chilling effect is when groups of the 'transformed' stop and look at anyone who shows any sort of emotion, cold and empty, with eerie, frozen stares. It's almost an apocalypse scenario, somehow, seeing all the people turn into clones with no feelings, no emotion, walking in straight lines obeying orders, their only goal in life being to turn anyone who isn't a clone into one (their shriek is also bloodcurdling and makes you want to cover your ears and hide).
The movie builds feelings of paranoia, the fear of being just a face in the crowd (communism?), and having no control over everything around you. I can't really capture the essence of it here; if you're a horror buff, you need to watch this movie (the one I saw was the 1978 version, I know there's a 1956 older version as well, but I haven't seen that one yet).
The original version of the movie, as I have read, tries to give an optimistic ending. The director for the 1978 version however, places a suprise twist in the last 2 seconds of the movie (again, I won't ruin it here, it's something for you to watch). Great stuff.
If you're interested in watching some clips, here ya go (be careful, there might be a few spoilers)
PS. Also equally scary in the movie is Donald Sutherland's moustache: