1. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK

    Horror Is Horror Dead?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by FrankieWuh, Mar 19, 2014.

    In a recent article for Writing Magazine, a UK periodical I subscribe to and read regularly, Johnny Mains of Salt Publishing was quoted as saying: "Horror in the mainstream is as good as dead, but there are faint signs of life."
    How can this be? It's a question I've asked a few times since, especially as horror on the silverscreen is alive and kicking (and resurrecting), and Stephen King is still writing strong and selling books by the ship-load. Is horror dead? Why then was Doctor Sleep a bestseller?
    And yet, when I visit my local Waterstones, there are very few new titles on the shelves. King, Herbert, Koontz dominate and the likes of Barker, Lovecraft and Straub fill the rest, with very few others featuring. Yeah, you've got you Joe Hills, Adam Nevills etc, but there's very few drops of new blood being spilt there, compared to the resurgence of fantasy and the dominance of SF.
    It's something I'm very concerned about as my recent project is unashamedly horror, with firm nods to those 70's horror books that I grew up with. Now while I didn't write this to make mega-bucks, I would like to know it would have some kind of audience. Seeing that audience die out from killer flu, nuclear Armageddon or, now, pure apathy, is disconcerting.
    It might be that King and co. are masking what really is a decline in horror popularity. We may prefer to watch blood being spilt than reading it, or maybe publishers are more canny; what we used to perceive as horror is now literary or even crime fiction. Perhaps Johnny Mains is actually wrong saying mainstream horror is dead. Maybe it's become so mainstream, it no longer has an identity of its own.
    What do you think?
     
    jannert likes this.
  2. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,824
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I don't think it's dead but I think what they're doing is comparing it to sales from the 80's when horror was probably at it's peak.
    Compared to the 80's they're probably thinking - yeah, horror is dead. But it's not that extreme, it just doesn't have the surge
    it once had. Either in readers or writers.

    All genre's have their highs and lows - sometimes they even seem to disappear for a while. ( gothic romance - survived probably by V.C. Andrews alone ) Right now fantasy ( you can see it even on the writing sites ) is big time. People are reading it and when they turn to write, they're writing it. Writer's tend to write what they like to read.

    Could be. It could also be suffering because paranormal & post apocalyptic has stolen part of it's audience. The term horror is being whittled down. And I think a lot of reader's especially those not entirely familiar with horror have written it off as trite. Especially when the themes - zombies, anything by King - have been mainstreamed.

    I wouldn't worry about it though - write what you like. That's one way of keeping the genre and audience alive. People still write westerns.
     
    Mike Hill, jannert and FrankieWuh like this.
  3. vera2014
    Offline

    vera2014 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2014
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    66
    Justin Cronin is bringing the life back to horror--CPR treatment. His books The Passage and The Twelve totally rocked.
     
  4. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK
    Yes, you're right. The standard horror tropes have been degraded over the years. Vampires, for example, are as scary and/or mysterious as next door's boy who has an ASBO. I wouldn't touch vampires at the moment with a with a ten foot axe-handle. While Twilight has arguably, like the Harry Potter books, brought on more readers when reading wasn't fashionable to children and teens, it's murdered one of the staples of horror (as has the majority paranormal romance if I'm honest - it's turned Dracula into porn in some respects, diluting what was good about the character; that's not all paranormal romance, though, some writers I would even define as horror writers, not paranormal romance writers). It will be a long time until I even contemplate using vampires in my fiction. The same with zombies, although that doesn't rule out all of the undead, and I'm still interested in writing my World War II necromancy book.
     
  5. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK
    I have The Passage on my to read list, right after Joe Hill's Horns.
     
    vera2014 likes this.
  6. Mackers
    Offline

    Mackers Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    268
    Location:
    Co. Tyrone, Ireland
    I would like to read a top notch horror novel. One that would really scare the pants off me...If anyone could recommend me one book, what would you suggest?

    I have tried to read a couple of Stephen King books. He's not to my taste. I've read house of leaves (I guess you could call that a horror book). Other than that, I'm not familiar with the genre too much. I was thinking of getting something by Clive Barker but I'd appreciate some suggestions :)
     
  7. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    It depends a lot on taste. But if you didn't like Stephen King, try Graham Masterton's books such as "The Devils of D Day", "The Heirloom" and "The Djinn".
     
  8. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,824
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I don't think I've ever been scared by a horror novel. Except James Herbert - he made me nervous after reading Rats and its sequels. It's always hard to know what people will find scary. I never thought Stephen King was scary, just interesting - although a lot of his endings are a complete let down. Also I'm not really into gore ( I usually skip those parts ). I like psychological horror and in the 90's Dell put out a great horror line called Abyss which featured Kathe Koja, Melanie Tem, Poppy Z Brite - etc. They're really hard to find, I've only read a few. XY by Michael Blumlien was great and so was Skin by Kathe Koja.
    I haven't read much new horror fiction I think the last authors I checked out was Briane Keene & Bentley Little, oh and Jack Ketchum all pretty good and one of my faves - Richard Layton has passed on.
    Here's a link you might like - http://www.complexmag.ca/pop-culture/2012/03/the-25-best-horror-novels-of-the-new-millennium/
     
    FrankieWuh likes this.
  9. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    I deliberately chose to write about vampires and werewolves for my first SF/Horror novel because I wanted to write something different from the rubbish that is coming out these days, as well was to incorporate some unique concepts of my own. According to the charts and the one review I have received so far, it seems to have caught the interest of some readers at least.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    No, it is mostly undead (these days).
     
    Mike Hill, maskedhero and peachalulu like this.
  11. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK
    I haven't been truly scared by a horror novel since I was fourteen. The same with horror films. When you've read or watched too many you get a different emotional response from them, and the canny horror writers know this so they try not to scare as much, but enthrall, excite and some aim to gross-out. King I think is the best writer out there who makes you like the characters he puts through the wringer. He is leaning more towards literary fiction these days, such as Bag of Bones, but the odd true horror novel breaks out now and then.

    For me the best recent horror stories have come via Clive Barker's Books of Blood. They didn't scare me, but they were weird and at times uncomfortable (such as the Body Politic, Son of Celluloid) or they inspired awe such as In the Hills and Cities (one of the most incredible short stories committed to paper in my opinion).
    No one has come close to replicating that, though Paul Meloy's Islington Crocidiles was a near miss.
     
    Mackers likes this.
  12. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK
    Wanting to reimagine a horror trope is perhaps one of the reasons behind my World War II necromancy novel I'm researching. I like the idea of sticking the undead in a war setting; afterall, for a soldier what is the worst horror than fighting an enemy that just won't stay dead however many bullets you riddle them with?
     
  13. outsider
    Offline

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    609
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    You could try The Hellbound Heart on which the Hellraiser movie franchise was based. Cabal is another good one, the film Nightbreed was based on this and was directed by Barker himself.
    I've read both of these and enjoyed them but it was many years ago and in terms of plot, etc I really can't remember too much of the detail. It's a genre that I've really fallen away from over the years, in truth.
    In fact, if you message me, I'd be happy to send you a Barker book, gratis.
     
    Mackers likes this.
  14. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Sounds interesting. There have been a few small indie films about zombie nazi soldiers that were quite effective. I'd be interested to see your final product.
     
    FrankieWuh likes this.
  15. Squash
    Offline

    Squash Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    1
    Horror is not dead in my opinion. However, I do not think that it was like it was once. No one can beat the old classics, such as Frankenstein.
     
  16. Johnny Mains
    Offline

    Johnny Mains New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hello folks, sorry for crashing in on the party, but thought I would expand on what are edited selections of a broader narrative.

    [​IMG]
    This photo is of my local Waterstones. A HUGE store. One tiny section devoted to horror. Manga, Fantasy, Sci Fi drown it.

    Horror literature in the UK mainstream is dead. It has been since the late 90s, early 00s - the final nail in the coffin when the last great publisher of horror, New English Library, was consumed by Hodder and the amazing backlist that NEL boasted was shut down forever. Go back to 1990, when the Pan Horror series had stopped, save horror anthologies edited by Stephen Jones, there wasn't really anything for the reader of short horror stories to read. In the 70s and 80s - thousands of anthologies and novels were annually printed by publishers such as Sphere, Tandem, Digit, Mayflower, Corgi, Panther, Arrow, Star, Fontana, NEL - companies that were bought out by the big players, because that's what big companies like to do. But not just buy-outs, many died a death because the very nature of the horror novel was changing, with the coming of Stephen King and his many pretenders, the horror novel became big, bloated, unwieldy - and publishers who got by bringing out thin paperbacks of no more than 110 pages found themselves unable to satisfy the public's desire for excess. This was reflected in real life in the 80s where we all got big and bloated - and then the bust happened in the early 90s. Publishers folded, times and tastes moved on, bankable names, familiar tropes, the birth of the celebrity novel/autobiography took hold.

    In my area of expertise, the horror anthology, publisher's never really got the taste for publishing them again. Which is weird, because we now find ourselves in a time when we are time poor more now than ever, and the short story can fit into those slots perfectly. But then again, the horrors that we experience are more real, the internet has opened a door that was once shut, we can now see things that were only glimpsed at on the 10 o' clock news. But to counter that argument, supernatural publishing did not died during World War 2.

    Ah, to fit so much into a few sentences.

    Nowadays what is on the shelves are the big names, King, King and...oh...King. Oh, maybe a bit of lower rung authors, Herbert and Laymon. Ramsey Campbell has all but vanished from my high street shelves. Ramsey fucking Campbell! We should have shrines to him in every bookstore we go in to! You'll find a few mid listers, a few anthologies - but nothing like the good old bad days. Of course 'dark fantasy' has its own section, but that is full of pining vampires and groomed werewolves and to be honest, I don't even think these can be classed as gateway books any more. The people who read those would die if they ever read anything by Adam Nevill or Poppy Z Brite.

    Where horror IS flourishing is in the small press. Of which I am a proud part of. Some of the most inventive, pertinent, amazing writers can be found in the small press.

    Here's a list of names you should go seek (UK and elsewhere):

    Nathan Ballingrud
    Lynda E. Rucker
    Anna Taborska
    Thana Niveau
    John L Probert
    Angela Slatter
    Reggie Oliver
    Laird Barron
    Alison Littlewood
    Joel Lane
    Mark Samuels
    Alison Moore
    D.P. Watt

    Seek publishers like PS Publishing, Mortbury Press, Gray Friar Press, Tartarus Spectral Press, Salt Publishing. Find magazines such as Black Static, Interzone.

    and if that's not enough horror for you, BUY my second collection.

    I like the look of this place, will stick around if you'll have me. :)
     
  17. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,824
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Hey Johnny welcome to the party! Wow, that is a very small horror section. I think my Chapters in Canada has a bigger section but a lot is reissues of King. What makes me nervous is that one of my favorite used bookstores has abolished their horror section. :(
     
  18. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK
    Hey Johnny, huge thanks for posting a reply (and welcome too - as a fellow newbie this is a fantastic forum to visit!).
    Sadly our local Waterstones has an even smaller horror section that's despite the manager loving horror novels.

    It's sad state of affairs - but then it just needs a new horror movement. Genre has its cycles and horror is a genre that's ready for resurrection.
    The indie press scene is a good place to begin, and Salt Publishing is flying that particular flag quite high, so double thanks!!
     
  19. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia
    I think horror has suffered from the same problem as pornography, hear me out. Over the past 3 decades pornography has just become more base and vulgar, if you've ever clicked on the wrong pop-up on a website, you'll know what I mean. Where once a lady featured in rather coquetish and glamourous risque shots, now it's just big closeups of you know what and often, God knows what.

    The same thing happened to horror films. Horror used to be about psychological suspense more than anything. Those horror flicks in the 80's based on Stephen King novels were more psychologically dark than they were about wholesale dismemberment and lots of gore. Now what have we got in film? Wholesale depictions of gross violence. That's not horror. The art of thrilling someone psychologically is what's been lost and so the horror section is full of old school masters mainly because the next generation don't know how to do what they do. They've just grown up with these depictions of people being tortured and hacked as horror. No wonder no-one really wants to write about it.
     
    Mike Hill, jannert and sunsplash like this.
  20. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Unfortunately, while you can still get porn of varying degrees of "hardness", including some mainstream efforts, zombie and slasher horror seems to have almost entirely taken over, apart from some silly "found footage" stuff.
     
    Mike Hill likes this.
  21. outsider
    Offline

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    609
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    'If you've ever clicked on the wrong pop-up on a website, you'll know what I mean'. Not sure I do, what websites do these pop-ups appear in? ;)

    You've got to love the irony of the Marquis de Sade quote in your signature, contextually speaking. ;)
     
  22. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Sexual sadism (or masochism) does not equate to mindless violence. If anything, it is the purposeful and controlled application of pain as a sexual stimulant. The Marquis proposed the infliction of pain to tease and arouse, or used it in his books to highlight the hypocrisy of the upper classes and clergy of his day, a world away from the angry cruelty of the SAW or Scream films. A great many BDSM fans would be happy to explain the difference to you.
     
  23. outsider
    Offline

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    609
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Thanks for clearing that up for the unenlightened.
    There was me thinking that the Marquis de Sade was an executive producer on the Saw franchise of films.
    :agreed:
     
  24. cazann34
    Offline

    cazann34 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    And the new one is coming out in October 2014, The City of Mirrors, really looking forward to it.
    I don't think horror is dead. It's not a genre that's leading the way, I think fantasy may be doing that but it's certainly not dead. I find that horror as a complete block has diminished in popularity (not by me though) but it seems does rear it's head in thrillers and science fiction quite a bit.
    Horror isn't the easiest genre to write. I know I've tried. I wrote a short story called 'shadow' that build up a lot of atmosphere but then went into the realms of silliness.
    There are very few good horror novelists out there. It's hard to scare readers nowadays. There's so much horror in the real world everything else seems dims by comparison.
     
  25. Devlin Blake
    Offline

    Devlin Blake Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2014
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    31
    Here's my take on horror; it's still here, but it's hiding. No one wants to admit liking horror, let alone writing it. So it's been hidden in other genres. Now it's Dark Fantasy, it's Sci-fi, it's thriller, it's urban fantasy, it's psychological, in other words, it's something else besides horror. But it's still horror.

    To be a horror story, it only really needs a few basic tropes:

    • A loss of control over the character’s life
    • A fear of the unknown
    • An overall feeling of dread
    This can actually apply most stories. Practically all genres have a core of horror because we love to be scared. I actually wrote a report about this, but I'm not going to promote it here.

    And if you want to read the scariest story ever written, read "Boomerang". It's a simple short story and it will scare you. To this day, that's the only story that ever really scared me.
     

Share This Page