Horror

I will preface this by saying I was supposed to do the anime/japanese thing, but I wanted to spend a little more time on that.
So instead, I bring you horror.

For some reason, people love to be scared. I think it’s the rush of adrenalin, and the possible high afterwards once you realize that you’re still alive.
Maybe that’s just for roller coasters and the like. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on tv.
What I do know is that I like to be frightened.
And it happens all the time. Sudden little frights that last but a brief time, but are cool none the less.
I seek out exciting, yet rather safe, things that raise my heart rate and make me go Whoo!
I wouldn’t go so far as ‘extreme’ sports, but then again, I haven’t tried them yet.

But I don’t consider that horror.

Maybe I should start with what horror is not.
Horror is not someone jumping out of a closet saying boo!
It is not a bunch of blood being pumped out at high velocity into the camera.
It is not just a bunch of scary images on the screen.

What it is, is a feeling.
It could be an uneasy feeling.
The hairs raised on the back of your neck.
A feeling of not being safe.
Having the sense of control be removed from you.
Of sheer, absolute, terror.

This is what is missing from modern movies. Terror. Real, honest to god, terror.
No one is really scared by watching modern movies.
They all get a freight, and then what? They laugh. They laugh at their friends on how high they jumped or how loud they screamed.
They laugh.
Terror and horror shouldn’t be funny.

Maybe I should use examples.

The Sixth Sense.
It was hyped as the horror movie of the year.
In it we find a little boy that sees dead people.
Lost souls.
And the other main character is one of these lost souls.
So what do they do? Try to right the wrongs of these lost souls.
It was like Touched By an Angel with Bruce Willis.
It was the feel good movie of the year.
Sure, all throughout there are random scary images of dead people doing dead people things.
And I heard shrieks, but when people walked out of that movie, they had smiles on their faces.
Wrong.

The main problem with modern ‘horror’ movies is that they bugger up the ending so that people have a sense of ‘everything’s right with the world’.
And since that’s the last thing that people feel, then the sense of terror is removed.

Let’s contrast this to a classic movie that was re-released not too long ago; The Exorcist.
In it’s day it was a horror masterpiece, and the first horror movie to also be a blockbuster.
There were people fainting in the isles, throwing up, and ambulances called.
It was a true horror movie.
But would it survive a modern audience?

Let’s face it, as a whole we’re a little desenseatized to graphic violence and blood and gore.
It takes a lot for people to jump in their seat.

So I went in to see the Exorcist.
In the theater there was the usual crowd of rowdy teenagers, and they were carrying on as teenagers often do.
There were laughing at the dated material on the screen and generally having a good time.
Then something happened. I’m not sure when exactly, but the whole theater went dead quiet.
It stayed that way until the end, and when we all walked out of there, everyone was a couple of shades whiter.
No one talked, no one joked with their friend, we all just filed out into the nice, well lite safety of the lobby.
We all went home in search of the safety that the movie robbed us of.

That’s horror.

—–

I think I’m getting the hang of this.
Not bad for something I thought of at the last minute eh?
OK, that’s tooting my own horn a little too much.

As an afterthought, the new version of the Exorcise is shit.
They changed the ending to the ‘alternate’ ending, which tries to put a positive spin on the aftermath.
If you can still find it, rent the original. All the scenes they added to the directors cut are in the extras, so you won’t miss anything.
It’s funny they put some back in actually, because in an interview with the director, he explains why he took them out in the first place.
Odd.
I tells ya, it’s all in the ending. Mr. Shyamalan would do well to take note of that. *zing* 😛

4 Comments

  1. thinkschematwo
    ·

    Lovecraft covered this very subject in a paper called “Supernatural Horror in Literature”

    At least I think it was Lovecraft…

    It was him or Poe, and although I’ve never read the article, I remember reading about (in highschool I think), and thought it was a valid point.

    I’m not even sure about the title of the article, but that was the best that Google could give me (from a Locus mag rundown on authors).

    Anyhow, suffice to say, good point!

    I’m not big on blood, guts, gore and loud noises. Heck, I’m not even much for disturbing storylines, but I’d rather the latter (in the “terror” sense you mentioned), because the creator has to try.

    That and sometimes good terror is disturbing because it makes you ask questions you’d rather not ask.

    The most disturbing thing I read recently was a story in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. It had people travelling into the infinite future. It conveyed bone-chillingly well, the gradual extinction of the human race, and what might happen if there were something pseudo-sentient all alone at the very end of the universe…

    Reply
  2. sidekickca
    ·

    Wow, you act fast ^_^

    Yea, it takes no talent to jump out of a closet.
    Hell, *I* can do that, and if I can do it, anyone can do it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the blood and guts. I have a fair amount of zombie/gore movies, but that’s about the FX science, not the horror.

    What was the story, sounds like a good read.

    Reply
  3. thinkschematwo
    ·

    Wow! I’ve been trying to post this for probably about 12 hours now…

    Anyhow, the story was from the August 2006 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine [http://www.asimovs.com/]… (I was close…)

    “In the Abyss of Time” by Stephen Baxter

    Apparently, this is something of topic for him, given the bibliography at… [http://www.baxterium.org.uk/] and of course at Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Baxter]

    You can find reviews of the story at…
    [http://www.bestsf.net/reviews/asimovs0608.html]
    [http://www.tangentonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=776&Itemid=259]
    [http://www99.epinions.com/content_4813791364]

    It was a pretty good issue when I looked it over again. There was also a pulpy Victorians in space story called “The Plurality of Worlds” by Brian Stableford.

    Reply
  4. packetfire
    ·

    Yea, it takes no talent to jump out of a closet.
    Hell, *I* can do that, and if I can do it, anyone can do it.

    It’s good that you’ve finally come to accept it.

    Let’s all thank Sidekick for sharing himself with us… 😉

    Reply

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