Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Horror of...Introductions

Hello all. I am starting a new series of post which I am entitling The Horror Of… That explains, in part, the title of this post. (See. All the pieces are fitting together.)

I hope to inaugurate readers into a worthwhile selection of “horror” films and shows. It’s a chance to share movies and other media of the “horror” variety that I've enjoyed. More on the horror aspect as we go along.

Ideally, like I am doing with my Sleepy Hollow reviewing, I can create a consistent stream of posts. But I've chose such an auspicious time to start this project. October. Starting a look at horror right now all but demands some extra effort (And me with my lazy bones.). So I am considering how I want to proceed this month. And what I've decided…I’ll get to that shortly. (I am all starts and stops, aren't I?)

First, I think it’s important to discuss briefly…hotter. …That was a typo. Horror.

So, now The Horror of…Horror


….ahem. Horror.

How do you approach such a topic? It would seem sensible that’d we’d all eschew horror. Because horror is fear, dread, apprehension, and the things that should send us into flight. Yet, people embrace it. They will shell out money to experience it.

"...That's when Freddy's tongue
came through the phone."
"What's a phone?"
"...I don't know."
More than embrace it. People celebrate it. As a species, we've carried horror in tales and legends from the age when we were first capable of sharing our thoughts with each other. From early humans, huddled in the dark, to people spinning yarns by the old Ben Franklin stove to someone on the Internet telling you there’s someone behind you right now…

People are drawn to it.

Not all of us, of course. For some it’s all too much. It’s not an addition to their lives that they want. Some have experienced all the real horror they could care for, and need no one to give them more. And, depending on the form the horror takes (amounts of gore, the subject matter); it may just not be palatable.

So do I like horror?

Well that can be a complicated answer. So let me give you the simple one first. Yes. I have a taste for horror, in books, in comics, in TV, and in movies. It can be a fun, engaging, and illuminating exercise. It can get the heart racing. It can take you on unexpected journeys. It can serve to wile away an afternoon or turbulent night.

But I don’t like all horror. There is always a matter of taste.

It comes from my history with horror as a genre.

"Chucky says, 'Hi.' Well, he would
if I hadn't dismembered him."
Early on, in my distant youth, I gained a distinct aversion to horror. I’ll blame some of those shows that the major channels (3 whole channels) of the day would put on Halloween nights. I can’t clearly remember what, but along the way, I caught some scary skeletons chasing someone, an evil clown doll stealing a child, and I was freaked out by the idea of being scared. And I avoided horror movies.

I had viscerally did not care for it, and would not let it in my life. I made every effort to avoid these sorts of movies. This went on for years. When I saw a Halloween movie, a Friday the 13th movie, or any scary gory movie come on I…was gone. (Heck. The “Catspaw” episode of Star Trek would freak me out.) And there’s nothing wrong with that. Just like some of you now, I didn't want to have anything to do with that stuff. (And in that day, if you didn't order The Movie Channel, you weren't seeing much of it.)

But over the years this sort of thing got less scary to me.  You see more, do more, discover more and varied reading; you then find yourself enjoying some more classic horror movies (Ah. Universal.). And you come to realize that there might be more than you think to horror. You find enjoying something a bit creepy or of the old Halloween spirit not far-fetched. (And that is odd. While I was troubled by horror, I did always love Halloween. Maybe at first it was just the candy, costumes, and celebration.)

"Star vampire? Yeah,
what's that going to do?"
By college I started played the role-playing game (RPG) Call of Cthulhu, and that allowed me to play out terrifying adventures, and demises (You seldom last long in a Cthulhu adventure.). That fun led to an interest in reading H.P. Lovecraft, and related authors. And that lead to being curious about the movies tied to his works.

Being apprehensive, I tried watching some of them. And I wasn’t thrilled with the gore in some. But I did learn to appreciate the often ridiculous, supernatural, and unreal reality they existed in. That is a line for me. In supernatural horror, you get violence. You can get weird creatures and beings. You can get a person to be revealed to be a shapeshiting alien, whose chest suddenly forms a mouth with razor sharp teeth. It’s unreal.

Now put beside more human acts, I find it more stomachable. I can be more detached from it.

Because for me, I don’t like seeing people hurt, mutilated, or killed. That makes it harder for me to partake in horror tales of more human type stories (the slashers, etc.). Don’t misunderstand. There are some of these I do enjoy. Interesting stories. Interesting characters or setting. Interesting dynamics. But just offering me a crazed killer running around  X wielding a Y while wearing a Z, I am just not engaged.

And this goes double for torture porn. I know there are many fans who hate that term. I can’t help it. If a movie is built around following the torture/abuse/slow murder of a person or persons, it’s torture porn. And if you like those movies…I am just not there with you. I mentally appreciate the idea of following any given process or event can have artistic merit. But I just don’t have to watch it, laud it, or be approving of it. So, yeah, I won’t be looking at torture porn.

But for the rest of horror, I am pretty open. I just want to find some films and show I like and share them.

But what is horror. (Yes. I did note the definition above.)

How are you defining horror then?

I will be honest. (And I will be pissing off many horror afficionado.) I, for these posts, will be using an amazingly liberal definition of horror. Some will riot. Some will collapse in outrage. Others will wonder when I will be covering It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

But in any talk of horror, or any genre, you can get into some fisticuffs over the boundaries. Science Fiction has some advantages here. You can demand that an application of science be present.

But horror? A question of fear and scares?

What scares you? What makes you uncomfortable? What are your limits?

The answer is going to vary between you and the next person. We aren't all the same.

Consider the Universal Horror classics of the 1930’s? Are they horror movies?

I was on a stream a few weeks back and listened to a horror afficionado running it laugh at Dracula. He saw it as silly and ridiculous. He was agape at the idea of someone finding It scary. I've also listen to a horror writer I respect dismiss these movies as not being horror. Yes. By the standards of many today, they are not scary. But for some they are.

Do we dismiss horror as horror, when it no longer gives us our requisite buzz?

I just don’t feel it is fair to dismiss so much, particularly with such fun, wonderful, and historical works out there to enjoy. It’s like being a fan of very hot (peppers) food and refusing to eat a dish with jalapenos, because it’s too far down the scoville scale.

If horror doesn't strike terror in you, should you look elsewhere? I think it comes down to a question of what you are looking for. It’s your prerogative. I am not a religious person. So when I watch The Exorcist, it doesn't strike me with a sense of fear for an immortal soul. But I am engaged by this struggle against an evil being that’s using and destroying a young child. It can affect you. On the other hand, I could put on a movie like The Audition, and have my stomach churn and be sickened by what happens in it. I am not looking for that. That’s not a fun time for me.

It’s why I usually stick to the more unreal horror. Or mood based horror. It takes me on the journey I want to take. I may end up a little shaken by the trip, but I've enjoyed myself.

So what types of Horror are you going to look at?

There is so much material to choose from.

There are the classics. Things many find too tame. But they are worth a little love and attention. From the early silent horror to the days of Hitchcock, it behooves you to experience them. (Anyone feeling a sting at movies like Bird getting called an older movie? Don't worry, I'll get mine.)

Then there are the the more recent (relatively) set. The movies that came out in the 70's and 80's. These movies have some cache. (And get treated by many as old classics. -- See? Now I feel old.) They get there time on TV still, but their are some people don't get around to. And that is a shame, and should get rectified.

And, of course, we have the more current crop of horror. Those many of you have seen. But so much is produced that a lot of it gets lost amid Direct to DVD, Direct to Online, and Direct to Syfy. There are some good fare in it's midst, and there is some silly stuff that you can enjoy with some friends some night.

Over the years their is the gory lot. Like I said, I don't care as much for the visceral. But some are worth the squirming, or can be a legitimately fun time with friends. I'll try to be clear when you are going to get hit with some nasty imagery.

And despite what some horror finds might lament, I want to look at the lighter fare. Things geared more towards kids, and TV shows. It is always a shame when these things get dismissed. I hope you'll agree.

And, finally, I want to talk Horror Host. Oh, how I love my plethora of Horror Host. (I'm not saying I have them locked in my attic. I just have shows I try to watch plenty.) They are often an entry point for so many to old movies over the decades. They also give you an excuse to feel like any time can be Halloween. And while their first hay day has come and gone, many have actually held on, or reinvented themselves. And others have emerged to carry on the legacy. If you don’t know much about them, I hope you do get to learn about them and appreciate what they've done for the genre, and its fans.

What now?

So now that I've doe the introductions, given you my card, and made my intentions a bit clear, we get to business. I'll later put out a plan for the month. But to start off October, and to start off Horror off..., let's go for something more classical, that you likely haven't watched.

How about something centered around a man who takes on the imagery of a bat. Woe those who get into his way. For they will not know what hits them.

...It's not Batman.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice choices! I can't wait to see what you have in store for movie choices.