Growing up in horror’s somewhat halcyon days of the 80s and early 90s, genre fans were spoiled for choice when it came to on-screen masters of mayhem.

With the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or even hero Ash in the Evil Dead films carving up the screen, horror geeks had plenty of icons to cheer on.

As the flood of slashers slowed to a trickle in the 90s, there was still time for characters such as Ghostface, Candyman, Chucky, Pinhead or even the Fisherman to take centre stage.

The 2000s to date have undoubtedly been dominated by Jigsaw and the Saw series, but with that now also having ground to a halt, where does horror go from here?

Sure, there have been both inventive and successful offerings over recent years, but the likes of Paranormal Activity and Insidious have been hits very much thanks to their concepts rather than any character creation.

And there have also been a handful of high-profile efforts that were clear attempts to start a franchise only for the thing to collapse –DarknessFallsanyone?

In addition to that, both PA and Insidious have relied substantially more on scares and suggestion than personal malevolence.

There are still horror series’ out there to be sure – Wrong Turn or Hatchet for example – but very few with returning characters, memorable villains or a semblance of structure.

There have also been attempts to bring the aforementioned franchises Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare onElm Street back to cinematic life – with very mixed results.

(Of course, I may well be missing some here, and if so please let me know below!)

In fact, the majority of horror sequels churned out nowadays can often only be linked by the names themselves, such is the studio’s desperate attempts to cash in.

Is all of this really bad news though?

Surely invention is the key to the genre, with new blood needed to keep the often-creaking genre shuffling along.

That is a theory I subscribe to, but only in part – after all, whether it be Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, Christopher Lee’s Dracula or the likes of Leatherface etc, horror through the decades has always been defined by its showcase villains.

Take a look at Fangoria magazine over recent months and they have even had to go to the length of having Kiss’ Gene Simmons on the cover, such is the lack of eye-catching characters.

While there is no doubt in my mind that horror will continue to be good box-office, a few new faces to root for would certainly not go amiss.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.