There’s a big double standard in Hollywood when it comes to horror movies. They can make a lot of money for their creators and investor; however, there’s little to no respect given to the genre that has a huge following. I know some will say awards like The Oscars go to acknowledge artistic endeavors, but come on…seriously? We’re talking about an award that Goldie Hawn got that Peter O’Toole never managed to snag until they gave him an honorary one. What the hell…Shirley Booth from the TV show Hazel has one of those things! Before this becomes a monumental airing of my sour grapes…Oscar has indeed nodded a few times to the genre I love so much. Here’s a few times they stooped.
You’d have thought that 1932’s victory for Fredric March as Best Actor in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would have opened the doors to the genre. Even though this film received two other nominations, it wasn’t until the 60s when Psycho came out that the Academy even glances in horror’s direction. The only explanation I can think of is that Jekyll and Hyde had a literary antecedent anchoring it in some kind of legitimacy. But that’s a gap of about 30 years. Ridiculous!
Then in 68 Ruth Gordon took home the trophy for her creepy neighbor in Rosemary’s Baby. Not as long a wait. Then only a mere five years later The Exorcist came along and got 10 nominations (only won two trophies, but what the hey, right?).
Then a miracle of a movie happened in 1981 (the year I graduated high school, thank you very much) and it was called An American Werewolf in London with visual make-up effects so impressive the Academy had to create the category for Make Up Effects and give to Rick Baker. Of course this was the same year Raiders of the Lost Ark was defeated by Chariots of Fire…a feat NO ONE CAN EXPLAIN TO ME! But I digress. Make up and special effects become the dumping ground for nods to horror movies.
Then along comes Ms. Kathy Bates winning a Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes in the horror movie Misery. You gotta love you some Ms. Kathy! Ms. Bates was a well-respected Broadway actress and her presence definitely legitimized the genre for a minute.
That set the stage the following year for the genre to finally raise its head with pride and deliver Silence of the Lambs sweeping many of the top categories. The moment of glory was snatched away by many spouting that it wasn’t really a horror movie but a psychological drama. Yeah, tell yourselves whatever you need to, but that was a freaking horror movie.
Oh, Academy, what are we going to do with you when you let gems like Let the Right One In and You’re Next slide by unacknowledged? I guess Goldie Hawn needs to make a horror movie. Don’t be mad, you know I love you Ms. Goldie! But all the blame cannot go to the Academy when directors and screen writers continue to give us the same tropes, they go for the same shocks, and the same jump cut scares. Horror movies are supposed to scare, unnerve, and upset people. You can do that without all the blood. Look at What Lies Beneath! If you start doing that, maybe the Academy will come around again like an old friend who had forgotten how cool it was to hang out with you!