In Defense of Horror

I’ve heard the argument that there’s no need for horror movies because there’s enough horror in this world already.  Perhaps, but perhaps not. What is horror?  Bing’s search engine defines it as an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.  Okay, that doesn’t really help.  What is horror as a genre?  To cheapen a genre I love, we could say that horror is fiction-stuff marketed to manufacture fear, shock, or disgust.  But horror movies do this by departing from reality, by placing us in far-flung scenarios that aren’t emotionally troubling – at least not in the long run – because they’re so blatantly fictional.  The horror we see in movies really has nothing at all to do with the horror we see in real life.  There are very few witches, vampires, and monsters traipsing about North America, and while there are murderers, there aren’t many methodical, superhuman, Michael Meyers-esque serial killers like the ones we see in slasher movies.  People will say that we’re an apathetic nation, desensitized by horror and violence.  But often times, entertainment violence is grounded in pure fancy; it bears no semblance to the problematic, and often violent scenarios we find in the real world.  If I were concerned with avoiding real world horror, I would be more likely to cut myself off from action movies or any movie involving any kind of war – whether it be The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games, or Saving Private Ryan.  Continue reading “In Defense of Horror”

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In Defense of Horror

Will Hell House Scare the Hell Out of You?

 

Hell HouseSo I haven’t blogged in a while.  I’ll admit: I downloaded an old computer game I used to play in high school, and I’m hooked all over again.  This is my plug for RollerCoaster Park Tycoon: Once you start building virtual amusement parks, you’ll never stop.  But I did read Hell House, by Richard Matheson, while I was on my blogging hiatus.  Perhaps I seek to get in touch with my youth; I also flew through Hell House in high school and was mesmerized.  I’ll admit, this time around, the story was less captivating.  Maybe I’m old and jaded.  But, the book is still a pretty good scare.  As I sat alone downstairs at night reading it, I looked around anxiously lest any insidious spirits eye me up and prepare to pounce.  As far as haunted house stories are concerned, Hell House provides an intricate plot with intense action and characters who are relatable, although some are more likable than others. Continue reading “Will Hell House Scare the Hell Out of You?”

Will Hell House Scare the Hell Out of You?

Hawke Does Horror Fiction — And Does Pretty Well

HawkeFor Christmas, I was unexpectedly gifted with the book The Haunted City, presented by Jason Blum.  Because I’ve seen myriad Blumhouse movies – and have been moderately thrilled to terrified by most of them – I was unquestionably excited by this present.  Indeed, the book received much praise, which it splashed across its beginning pages.  My excitement intensified.  And I stumbled upon a story by Ethan Hawke.  We all know him.  He seems like a likable enough guy, and certainly a good actor.  So I thought to myself: I wonder how Hawke does horror?  And I had to find out.  As it turns out, he does pretty well, but he left me wanting more. Continue reading “Hawke Does Horror Fiction — And Does Pretty Well”

Hawke Does Horror Fiction — And Does Pretty Well

A Trip to the Bazaar: Stephen King’s “Premium Harmony” in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

bazaarI’ve come to conclude that one of the richest elements of Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the introduction he writes to each story.  I’ve also come to conclude that the stories aren’t scary, per se, but that’s okay; I don’t think he intends to scare as much in this book as he does in some of his more frightening novels, despite what the somewhat misleading book title would suggest.  What is particularly intriguing about The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is its rich variety.  Each story is distinctly its own entity, written with a different style.  I think variety in output is often the hallmark of true talent, though I need not make the argument that King is truly talented, because that seems like an understatement.  The stories stand alone as good writing, but combine together to form an eclectic view not on the infinitely terrifying, but on the darker side of life. Continue reading “A Trip to the Bazaar: Stephen King’s “Premium Harmony” in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams”

A Trip to the Bazaar: Stephen King’s “Premium Harmony” in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Chapter One – The Talk

This is part one of the short story I’m trying to write.  Mind you, I do very little fiction — this is predominantly a review website — but I’m taking a stab at it.  I haven’t gotten to the really scary stuff, yet:

“Well first of all, the air is stifling here.  But really, just everything is stifling here.”  I was craving a Frappucino but was working on exercising my self-discipline.  Sometimes a hot gulp of black coffee sounds like a delicious, stimulating indulgence.  Other times, it feels like a necessity.  But there are times – like that night – when it just felt like a punishment for someone who loves Frappucino but carries its calories in her thighs.  I paused and realized that I was tapping my foot frenetically. Continue reading “Chapter One – The Talk”

Chapter One – The Talk

It Was All A Dream: Or Was It?

caterpillarReading E.F. Benson’s “Caterpillars” tonight harkened me back to a summer night three years ago.  I was in my bedroom on a balmy evening.  I was living with my parents because I was a poor grad student.  My parents usually turned the air conditioning on, but that night they didn’t and the stifling heat seemed to devour the wind that was trying to creep through my window.  I fell asleep nonetheless, and when I woke up in the middle of the night, there was the shadow of a man standing above my bed.  Mind you, this was before I re-kindled my childhood fascination with horror and that perhaps illusory world between life and extinction.  So my mind wasn’t primed to see phantoms the way it theoretically would be now.  I remember distinctly seeing the outlines of the books on my bookshelf behind the figure.  I felt very much “there.”  Everything looked real. Continue reading “It Was All A Dream: Or Was It?”

It Was All A Dream: Or Was It?

Writing Horror

When I prepare to write a review of a story or movie, it goes something like this:  I scribble some notes, on a tablet or in the margin of the book.  Usually, I use these notes to prompt larger points.  More ideas flow as I write.  It’s highly exhilarating; I just started writing reviews for a blog, but I love it.  At the same time, it doesn’t seem particularly hard.  Indeed, it’s easy to discuss how I feel about something I’ve read.  Sometimes, it’s easy to analyze it on a deeper level, especially if I apply a handy academic paradigm.  Paradigms make all analysis easier.  I went through four years of liberal arts schooling and two years of an English Master’s program; I know how to break things down and analyze them.  My point?  I find it relatively stress-free and enjoyable.

Continue reading “Writing Horror”

Writing Horror