1. Eric242
    Offline

    Eric242 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Canada

    The appeal of horror

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Eric242, May 12, 2013.

    Hello people! So I never used to be in the genre (in fact I have yet to read any horror... I should do that), but over the last few years I have grown to love horror movies and games. I thought we could talk about why we like horror (or don't like it, if the case may be).

    As your imagination runs wild, filling in the shadows with the grotesque and disturbing, there is something oddly appealing about that gut-churning sense of dread you get. I can't really put my thumb on it. But it's exciting, it's gripping... There is something about being terrified that just hooks me. What do you think it is?

    Why do you think people (in general or you specifically) like horror?
     
  2. Karnival
    Offline

    Karnival New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Blackpool, England
    I think that fear or the expectation of knowing what's to come, heightens the senses, brings on a little adrenaline and for some it's the only time they truly feel alive. Well written horror, gets into your mind and scares you to some extent, plays on this notion and keeps you hooked to the feeling.

    Another reason is our need for Catharsis. In horror movies especially there's always some annoying dumb ass of a character you're rooting to get taken out in some gloriously inventive way. By aligning these characters with the people who get under you're skin in real life, you get to re leave some of that emotion. It can make you feel a lot better after a bad day without putting your freedom in Jeopardy;)
     
  3. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    People like it for the same reason many enjoy action and suspense, adrenaline. A lot of people have a high threshold for adrenaline and it takes more to shake them up. What better way to get the adrenaline flowing than to tap into primal fears? I think morbid curiosity has a role in it as well.

    Personally I'm not a fan of feeling primal, gut churning, fear. I've felt it enough in real life and I've found I don't care for it. ;) I do enjoy suspense and action but not horror. Most horror stories wind up using gore or body horror as a go to. I'm not a fan of either of those things. Seeing people terrified or in pain feels like someone taking a cheese grater to my soul. I'm a very empathetic person so I suppose that's a big part of why I don't like it. I have a very strong drive to help people who are in distress in real life. I also don't like body horror because it makes my skin crawl. It hits a little too close to home for me having a chronic illness that nearly killed me at one point due to years of misdiagnosis. I am also cursed/blessed with vivid dreams and these can easily turn into nightmares given the right material.
     
  4. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Horror (to me) is about exploration of human nature.

    What scares us, and how we respond to it, is a very big part of character and psyche, telling a lot about individuals and cultures. I'm fascinated by how horror differs from time period to time period, as well as between locations. What is scary in (say) Japan differs widely from what scares in Africa or the west. Similarly, comparing Victorian horror to its contemporary descendants shows a gulf of cultural perspective.

    I also love horror fiction for its technical aspects. More than any other genre, it works in tandem with the reader's imagination. Describing everything in acute detail is the best way to kill fear; my own imagination is far more effective at scaring me than you are. So a writer has to provide the outline, the scaffolding for the reader's own imagination to do the heavy lifting.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. BlackCatMagick
    Offline

    BlackCatMagick Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Somewhere south of sanity.
    For the same reason I love haunted houses. I like getting scared because it makes me feel alive. The adrenaline isn't like the kind you get on a roller coaster. It's darker, and therefor more enticing and addictive. ;)
     
  6. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I love horror, for some reason more than any of the other 'genre' that hasn't somehow earned the confusing and really rather portentous title of 'literary fiction'.

    There is just something about horror that appeals to me, and something about how more modern horror emphasizes psychology and character development over stock traits. But also, Lovecraft was right when he said in 'Supernatural Horror in Literature' that the oldest and most powerful emotion mankind possesses is fear, especally fear of the unknown. I suppose you can say it strikes a deep chord.
     
  7. SquigglewithMeaning
    Offline

    SquigglewithMeaning New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England
    I think I love horror because it is seductive in so far as something has "power" and someone or something else doesn't. I find good horrors are the ones that have the power dynamic changing during the story, or that it might not even be clear who is the hunter and who is the victim.
     
  8. MainerMikeBrown
    Offline

    MainerMikeBrown Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    60
    Many people like horror because watching it on movies is kind of a macho thing, as people like to test themselves to see how well they can handle it.
     
  9. anonymous_pseudonym
    Offline

    anonymous_pseudonym New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2013
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've never been a fan of horror movies or books, but my wife loves it. It's definitely an adrenaline rush for her.​
     
  10. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I don't like gory horror, but I do like Edgar Allan Poe. He was all about chills and creepiness and not so much about blood spewing everywhere.

    I wonder if there may be a therapeutic component to horror, at least from the writer's point of view. The writer has nightmares, he writes them down, and they stop scaring him. Getting it on paper makes it possible to analyze the nightmare objectively. A tarantula may scare the daylights out of someone as it crawls towards them, but if the same tarantula is caught, killed, and preserved for dissection, it loses its power to scare.

    People who experience nightmares may get the same kind of benefit from reading horror stories.

    Of course, I'm not a psychiatrist, so I have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm just putting this out there.
     
  11. Mackers
    Offline

    Mackers Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    268
    Location:
    Co. Tyrone, Ireland
    Can anyone recommend any good horror novels? I'm looking for a book that will unsettle.

    And by horror novel I don't mean anything by Stephen King. Tried him. Hate his writing style!
     
  12. MainerMikeBrown
    Offline

    MainerMikeBrown Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    60
    Although horror movies sometimes frightened me as a kid, I've never felt scared watching a horror movie since. In my teen years as well as my adult life, I've enjoyed horror flicks, but have never felt fear while watching them.
     
  13. BUDDY GORGEOUS
    Offline

    BUDDY GORGEOUS Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    235
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Alaska
    Mackers: try reading early Clive Barker stuff like his books of blood colletions. Pretty good horror.
     
  14. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    If you're not keen on Stephen King, try Joe Hill (ironically, King's son!). His writing style has the positive aspects of King's without the negatives (for example, being incredibly long winded). Heart-Shaped Box is an incredibly fresh take on the traditional horror story, and Horns is...something else entirely.
     
  15. MainerMikeBrown
    Offline

    MainerMikeBrown Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    60
    Not feeling fear while watching a horror movie is a nice problem to have, I think.
     
  16. Webster
    Offline

    Webster Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    France
    Be careful what you wish for, Mackers. I give you one name: Edward Lee
     
  17. JDawg
    Offline

    JDawg New Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    I can't speak for everyone, but personally I enjoy horror movies because of the suspense. It must release adrenaline or something. I like being glued to my seat, or in the case of horror writing, being glued to every page, sentence, and word.

    I think other people might like it because they like being scared. They like feeling an emotion (intense fear) that we don't experience often in real life.

    P.s. I don't think Stephen King counts as real horror. Imo it's more suspense.
     
  18. Webster
    Offline

    Webster Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    France
    Lords of Salem is pretty terrifying in places.

    Now that nothing is taboo, writers and film makers are starting to lose the art of getting under the skin of the audience, settling instead for cheap shocks.

    In my humble opinion The Shining is the greatest horror movie ever made, and there's only one murder performed on screen. But there's so much going on under the surface, the more you think about the movie, even when not watching it, it becomes creepier. You could say the horror of it evolves the more you delve into it ;)
     
  19. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    "Carrie"
    "Pet Sematary"
    "Cujo"

    I don't think everything he's written is horror, but surely it's a common genre for King.
     
  20. Webster
    Offline

    Webster Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    France
    I've heard King described as being the modern equivalent to Dickens. He's managed to combine mainstream success with being a superb craftsman. I respect writers like King and others of his generation- that insane work ethic, the clever references to classical literature and to pop culture. Are there any equivalents in the new generation? I really don't think so. But then I'm something of a Luddite.
     
  21. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Maybe I have a different definition of the word 'classical' but I've never seen King reference anything classical in any serious respect. I've read a lot of Stephen King (he's fun) but the very few classical allusions I've seen him make have been the sort of things that everyone knows, it's like pop culture. Such as the story of king Midas and suchlike - and I suppose he does explain 'In Medias Res' in Misery, in an obvious case of 'Yeah, I have an English degree'. Unless you mean classic novels like Jane Eyre or something? 'Classical' in terms of literature has for me always referred to the writings of ancient Greece and the Roman empire.

    Also, I take issue with the idea he's a 'superb craftsman', he's really quite clumsy. Also, it's painfully clear with some novels he is just making it up as he goes along, and barely redrafts to think things through. And for the record: I know for a fact this is what King does too, ever read On Writing? Mind, for me King and Dickens are in the same boat in that they I find their work to be just good yarns, not something to think too heavily about. Though, I will admit, I really liked Tale of Two Cities, and Misery. So there's that I suppose.
     
  22. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Lol and perhaps never should be a psychiatrist - what you've prescribed here is like the worst advice ever for not getting nightmares! You read about things that scare you, it's gonna scare you more. All you end up doing is actually accumulate those scary images with other things that already scare you and you end up with something even worse!

    What you should rather do is confront the fear in a controlled setting - first by looking, then getting closer, eventually to touch, and then perhaps to carry it. You need to put the control back to the individual (so your idea of killing the tarantula and dissecting it would be a good idea - but that's assuming it's really what it does that scares. For me, just the way it looks scares, so I'm not sure killing and dissecting would help) - you don't get control by reading horror. The book is a horror precisely because the characters have *no* control :D

    For me, normalising something makes it less scary. I used to be freaked out by spiders - I'm getting better now because sometimes I look at beetles and flies and other insects that I don't find scary, but moves in a very similar way to spiders. I'm realising it's just normal, that if this fast and creeping thing isn't scary, how is a spider different? I think of how spiders kill flies and how flies are annoying, turning spiders into "friends" rather than "foes".

    When I watched Saw II (I was made to do so by a friend, wish I'd stood up for myself and just said no), the clip of that woman with her hands trapped in a glass case freaked me out. Somehow my hands are very important - probably because I love to write, draw, make jewellery, make origami, bake - all things I need my hands for. Hands and eyes, these are the things I never want to lose. So you can imagine, lady gets her hands stuck in a sharp glass case - *shudders*

    The image plagued me for a week, to the point where I got really annoyed, but I couldn't get it out of my head. So what did I do? I told myself, "She's an actress, she wasn't really crying, and the blood on her arms was probably ketchup."

    Since then, the image lost its power. I still dislike it, but it doesn't plague me anymore. I'd never watch it again though.

    I have a weird fascination for horror but images stick so fast to my mind (and they stay for absolutely years) that I've decided it's just a dumb idea, for me at least, so I no longer watch any horror, not even psychological horror. I used to go for psych. horror, because I categorised them as "thrillers", and then one day I sorta woke up to the fact that actually, it is horror, just without the monsters and the blood. I wanted to watch Buried, but I never will now - kinda a pity really.
     

Share This Page