The Appeal of Horror

haunted houseIn his essay, “Why We Crave Horror,” Stephen King posits that we’re drawn to horror movies because they make us feel normal, essentially.  When we compare ourselves to the debauchery of horror movies, we don’t feel so frighteningly different from others.  We are not evil spirits or sociopathic serial killers, so we’re doing okay, and we’re not very unlike those around us.  King’s theory makes sense; nobody wants to be the victim of “terminal uniqueness” – the state of feeling inherently and vastly different from others.  But I think the theory is simplistic; it doesn’t fully embrace the multi-dimensional intrigue of the horror genre.  The theory seems to imply that horror fans see themselves as quirky outcasts who crave the feeling of being like others.  This is probably partially true.  I’m a little strange, and there have been times in my life where I’ve felt both strange and estranged.  But I think such a theory – without any supplementary reasoning – lends itself to a sort of “hasty generalization” of horror fans.  It assumes that, first, all fans of the genre feel “less than normal,” and second, that they all desire a feeling of normalcy.  I think King’s theory explains part of horror’s appeal, but it leaves room for further analysis. Continue reading “The Appeal of Horror”

The Appeal of Horror

The Natives Will Eat You: Cannabalism, Ancient Indian Burial Grounds, and the Insidious “Other” in Horror Films

green inferno twoThe 1980’s was a decade for crazes.  There was hair metal.  There were leggings.  There was crimped hair and the arrival of Saved by the Bell, which would reach its peak in the 90’s but aired its first episode in 1989.  There were sweat bands, hammer pants, early rap, both bangle bracelets and The Bangles, who were always burning their eternal flames while they told us to walk like an Egyptian.  But Egypt was not the only culture that interested us in the 80’s.  In the horror genre, which often borrows from non-Western culture to create its evil deities — writers became fascinated by the Ancient Indian Burial ground.  The Ancient Indian burial became something of a default-fallback.  Want to depict evil?  Need to attribute evil to something?  Why not say it was an Ancient Indian Burial ground?  You know, those crazy natives, they’re always stirring up trouble. Continue reading “The Natives Will Eat You: Cannabalism, Ancient Indian Burial Grounds, and the Insidious “Other” in Horror Films”

The Natives Will Eat You: Cannabalism, Ancient Indian Burial Grounds, and the Insidious “Other” in Horror Films

Walking Through the Walking Dead (Season 1): Questions the Zombie Apocalypse Raises

Walking Dead OneMichael and I have finally started watching The Walking Dead.  So that means we’re about six years behind schedule.  I saw a few episodes, once, a long time ago, with friends, but I never latched on to the Walking Dead phenomenon.  I had nothing against the few episodes I saw, but at the time I was more into watching old re-runs of HBO’s Six Feet Under.  Ostensibly, I wanted to contemplate death without focusing on unfortunate and unholy resurrections.  Plus, Six Feet Under gives death a thorough examination. The Walking Dead sort of dances around it and runs from it, while flaunting it at the same time. Continue reading “Walking Through the Walking Dead (Season 1): Questions the Zombie Apocalypse Raises”

Walking Through the Walking Dead (Season 1): Questions the Zombie Apocalypse Raises

That MARVEL-ous Zombie Trend

Guest Writer: Michael J. Miller

Marvel Zombies 2
Photo Credit – Marvel Zombies

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has casually peered into the world of popular culture over the last few years but zombies are in.  The success of AMC’s The Walking Dead – based on the hugely successful in-its-own-right comic series – has ushered in a new era of zombie fervor.  We are in love with zombies and we want more of them.  This has lead to some odd cross pollination of genres (the Star Wars novels Death Troopers and Red Harvest anyone? It’s literally Star Wars and zombies!!  What?!?).  Crazy unexpected combinations aside, many of these stories are not without merit or depth.  And they do give us a weirdly different vision of horror.  One of the more unexpected (and disturbing) entries into this horror sub-genre came in 2005 with Marvel Zombies. Continue reading “That MARVEL-ous Zombie Trend”

That MARVEL-ous Zombie Trend

Warming Up to Horror? Try “August Heat”

August HeatAmong the most appealing elements of the horror genre is its diversity. I grow skeptical when people say they don’t like horror. I think there’s something in horror for everyone, an assertion that I hope my blog will prove, one day when I’ve been at this for a very long time. (Two weeks is hardly enough time to capture the intricacies and variety of the genre). You can, for instance, watch a mildly eerie old black and white film – maybe a Tod Browning – or watch someone’s limbs get torn off, shred by last sickening shred, in an Eli Roth film. You can read something as dark as Poe, or you can take a lighter, simpler helping of horror, say with the story “August Heat” by William Fryer Harvey. I read “August Heat,” last night, and thought it was a refreshing dose of abnormality. As a side-note, I’ve avoided major spoilers in this review. Continue reading “Warming Up to Horror? Try “August Heat””

Warming Up to Horror? Try “August Heat”

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films

psycho 2Tonight, after a dinner at the Public House, Michael and I headed to Erie’s Warner Theater on 8th street to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on the big screen while the Erie Chamber Orchestra sat under the screen, playing the score.  The experience was phenomenal.  Watching musicians play the opening score while credits splashed across the screen was so exhilarating I got chills.  Of course, one pivotal musical moment happens during the infamous shower scene, but the music was similarly arresting when the last remains of Marian’s car sink under the swamp, and when “Mrs. Bates” turns around, and we see her “in the flesh.”  (Or, if I may, in the lack of flesh).  In fact, I never realized how beautiful Psycho’s score was until I saw it produced by a live orchestra. Continue reading “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films”

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films