Seeking an explanation for the unprecedented development of this kind, the Soviet reader is invited to conclude that in the West, and particularly in the United States, the horror is in fact only a pale reflection of everyday life the ambivalence remains, since above it was a question of the horror film as a multiplier of the pangs of real life. The undead, the zombies (the word is used) that populate the screens did not come from the vivid imagination of the directors, but from the CIA laboratories.
The Soviet press reports with ill-concealed complacency cases of the dismemberment of children by soldiers from Latin America in the pay of Uncle Sam, of snuff movies, where actors without work are murdered for real47, of people burned alive to escape the throes of unemployment. The ultimate horror is, of course, the prospect of nuclear war hatched by the White House: thousands of children write letters “filled with horror” to US President imploring him to stop the arms race. In movies123 you can expect the best solutions now.
- On the whole, therefore, this anti-horror campaign only surprises by its scale, in its arguments, it remains similar to what it has always been: in particular, the Soviet speeches recall in a disturbing way the criticisms addressed to the horror film in the West itself, its harmful role for young people, and simply ignore interpretations of the horror film as a genre containing in german acute social protest, yet noted in 1968 with the Night of the Living Dead, read as a denunciation of racism and persistent discrimination against the black American population.
- This argument, generally conservative, remains ambiguous to say the least: are horror films to be proscribed because of their very genre, their content, or their influence paralyzing and debilitating at the same time? Everything would be just a question of etiquette, as evidenced by the long interviews with Stephen King universally recognized as “the master of horror”, and Georgi Milliar, the actor who had played Kachtchei, d where the term “horror” is curiously absent? Be that as it may, the scale of the campaign makes the horror film paradoxically present in its absence, judging by the many details provided by journalists to readers. Above all, this magnitude hides, in fact, a consensus that is crumbling out of sight.
The end of a consensus
The context of the Soviet film industry at the end of the 1970s beginning of the 1980s is marked by the crisis. Television competition associated with the end of a “golden age” of Soviet cinema is manifested by a significant drop in attendance. If it is at the same time an extremely lucrative industry (the only one, perhaps, with that of hydrocarbons), the fact remains that, for the leaders of Goskino, Soviet cinema as it exists cannot only fill the rooms, the need to turn to more “commercial” productions, including those from abroad, is more relevant than ever.
The central question comes back to the fore: can cinema be both a means of entertainment, oriented towards profit and a tool of mobilization, oriented by ideological education? This question, which goes back to the origins of Soviet cinema, came back to the fore at the end of the 1970s when we started producing feature films with the undisguised aim of making profit: the symbol of this “new »Era being an action film, Pirates of the 20th century (B. Dourov, 1980), with phenomenal success – it is seen by nearly 104 million spectators, an absolute record.