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  1. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Horror "Fun" Horror vs "Dread" Horror

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Adam Bolander, Sep 14, 2020.

    To me, there are two kinds of horror stories: the fun kind, and the serious kind. Basically, the kind that you read or watch because it's more fun than scary, and the kind that actually makes you feel some measure of actual fear while watching it. What story falls into which category is completely subjective, because what somebody finds fun the other might not.

    For example, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Halloween" to me are "fun" horror because the kill scenes are why you're watching it in the first place. That's where the director's creativity gets to shine, and the deaths are so over the top that they you can't take them seriously. That doesn't mean they have to be outright silly like the Evil Dead movies, but there's also not an atmosphere of...well, fear, to them. So you might want the characters to get away safely, you also wouldn't want them to avoid the danger entirely.

    On the other hand, something like Jeff Goldblum's "The Fly" or anything written by HP Lovecraft is "dread" horror. Goldblum's transformation into a disgusting mutant is so gruesomely portrayed that, while you can still say it's over the top, it strikes a nerve deep inside of you. Likewise, the tones of helplessness and worthlessness in the face of an uncaring and incomprehensible universe in Lovecraft's works resonate with a lot of readers, making their own feelings echo those of the characters in those stories.

    What about you guys? Do you agree with the division between fun and dread horror? Where does the line get drawn for you, and what are some examples?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    No, I don't. There's no horror that is "fun". If it's "fun", it's not horror.

    Evil Dead 3 was not horror. It's an action comedy. Evil Dead 1 was horror.

    Nightmare on Elm Street was supposed to be scary to its intended audience.
     
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  3. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I'm really curious, since I admit to knowing very little about the requirements for Horror - would you consider Tucker & Dale vs. Evil to be part of the Horror genre?

    I've seen it promoted that way a lot, and as someone who is VERY picky about the specific qualifiers in my own genre, I'm wondering if it's something I should bring up when I see it, that it's not really a Horror movie per se.
     
  4. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Yes, but there's also an undeniable campiness to the whole thing. Krueger can be scary, but all his wisecracks make him funny too. I mean, just look at him in Freddy vs Jason.
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    there are a lot of movies that were intended to be scary, but came off as corny/campy/funny. Then there are movies that are comedy horror.
    I guess maybe an added distinction should be its overall intent?
     
  6. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    The wisecracking was part of his character. That particular image you've posted is supposed to enhance the horror.
     
  7. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Horror comedy is a genre I love. If I had to guess I'd say the genre developed from people finding classic horror more ridiculous than frightening, like the op is talking about.
     
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  8. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    It's horror comedy. Which generally has all the qualities of horror, but the tone is all wrong. Essentially all the same stuff will happen but from the viewpoint of an atypical character.

    I definitely wouldn't classify it as classic horror either. It's a special snowflake. Like a niche of dark comedy I suppose.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
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  9. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

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    Personally I tend to divide the horror genre into three camps: spooky, scary, and true horror.

    Spooky is my go to, and could be considered horror-lite. It's what those of us with low horror tolerance watch in October. Examples would be movies like Coraline and most of the classic Universal Monsters.

    Scary is the domain of jump scares and action horror. Its primary objective is to get the audience's heart racing. My favorite of this type would have to be the Resident Evil games.

    True Horror is a lot heavier than the other two, so to speak. There is the presence of existential horror or inescapable terror. Can either be gratuitously gory or psychologically chilling. But however it presents itself, it is almost guaranteed to be too much for me to handle.

    Admittedly I created these three camps mostly to help me understand why I love some types of horror but can't tolerate others.
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    So, Silent Hill? (The game, not the movies)
     
  11. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

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    Probably, though I do love Silent Hill. Which I guess kind of ruins the reason for my groupings. Oh well, there's exceptions to every rule.
     
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  12. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Hmm...Silent Hill is an interesting beast. 1 and 3 strike me as being on the grittier edge of "fun" horror, while 2 is firmly in "dread" horror. The reason for that is because, as creepy as the town is and as scary as the monsters are, 1 and 3 are stories about people fighting monsters. 2, on the other hand, is more psychological and symbolic. It's turning James' guilty conscience against himself, and everything you see is created specifically to torture him.
     
  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Silent Hill 1 was the creepiest game I've ever played. I actually felt physical relief when Harry moved from the Otherworld back to the Fog World for the first time. There was nothing "fun" about fighting the monsters.

    And it's not like Resident Evil where you eventually get a grenade launcher to run around with. The weapons in Silent Hill aren't that powerful and Harry isn't that good at using them, which adds to the sense of helplessnes.
     
  14. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    To me, the fact that there are combat mechanics at all puts it in the "fun" category for me. While something like Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Outlast would be in the "dread" category because you have no method of defending yourself apart from running and hiding. In Amnesia, you don't even know what it is that's chasing you because just looking at the monsters does damage to you.
     
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  15. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    In almost every horror, there is a way of fighting the enemy, be that crosses and garlic, or a giant-ass truck (Christine). Whether that does the protagonist any good or not is a different matter.
     
  16. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    The first Nightmare was scary. It had its comedy elements but it was meant to scare the audience. By the time you got to Final Nightmare in 1991, it was just camp. Granted, Nightmare 2 was unintentionally hilarious, even the filmmakers say that in retrospect, but that's neither here nor there. It's why they took the franchise in a completely different direction in Nightmare 3.

    The secret to doing horror well is in the execution. Lots of movies are just gore. They're not scary, they're gross. That includes things like the Saw series. There are things that are intentionally funny. Things like the Scream series which pointed out all of the absurdity of the slasher genre. Then there are movies that wanted to be scary but turned out funny due to poor execution and those examples are legion.
     
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  17. Veloci-Rapture

    Veloci-Rapture Member

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    It's totally subjective. Nobody can say objectively that one movie/game is "fun" and another is "horror".

    For example, I have a super-low horror tolerance. Body horror makes me literally vomit. Slasher flicks emotionally wreck me for days. Zombie movies, which most people say are "camp" or "fun horror", are right at about the level of creepy I can handle. I call them "horror". I am scared and excited while watching them, even if everyone else is laughing.

    Tucker and Dale vs Evil was such a weird experience for me. The horror elements were horrifying, but the tone was so incongruous that my brain just couldn't wrap around it. It wasn't quite horror enough to be "horror", and it wasn't quite funny enough to be "comedy". They could have done so much more with that premise than what we got. Or I could just be impossible to please.

    So which category a given work falls into has less to do with the conventions of the genre and more to do with the individual tolerances of readers. I know people who can't handle any zombies, but who love slashers. I know people who are fine with zombies, diseases, body horror, and mad scientists, but get pale and faint when the occult is involved. I don't think there's any reasonable way to draw a line here.
     
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  18. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I loved that movie, but it was ...is there a word for anachronistic, but in regard to genre instead of time period? Incongruous is actually pretty apt!

    It was jarring while at the same time playing into exactly the tropes I was expecting. It hit just the right spot for me, but I have a VERY weird sense of humor. I can definitely see how it's not for everyone.
     
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  19. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Sometimes humor is the price paid to get people to invest in the film.

    Recently, I watched, "We Summon the Darkness," which I personally think of as a horror comedy, but their is a scene toward the beginning where the first villainous plot is revealed:

    "Never have I ever drugged someone's drink." and all three women admit to what they just did to the guys...

    which still strikes me as oddly realistic and creepy. Even though all this stupid, corny, and gross stuff happens, when I think of that movie, that's the scene I think of.

    Nightmare on Elm Street is a fun and silly movie to me, now, but when I was in elementary school it scared me. It scared people enough for every haunted house in the 80-90s to have Freddie. But make no mistake, it is a little silly.

    I actually won't watch shit like "The Ring," "Saw," or, "The Grudge," because they are such intense downers and I don't love being startled. But a horror comedy, even if it is unnerving, is one of my favorite genres. Even stuff like, "ZombieLand" qualifies imo because even though it is silly and campy, with actual funny jokes and 4th wall breaks, the movie was so true to the characters that I felt for them.
     
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  20. Le Panda Du Mal

    Le Panda Du Mal Senior Member

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    I thought Evil Dead was immensely scary, even with silly moments. More recently Drag Me to Hell (which is ultimately inspired by MR James' "Casting the Runes") I found both hilarious and genuinely terrifying. Maybe Sam Raimi is just good at that.

    Another fine horror comedy is Michele Soavi's Cemetery Man AKA Dellamorte Dellamore.

    As for Lovecraft, to me, "The Statement of Randolph Carter" reads like comedy, like someone other than Lovecraft is writing a dead-on Lovecraft parody, though I don't think Lovecraft actually intended it that way. But when it says at the end, "YOU FOOL, WARREN IS DEAD" that comes across as a punchline to me and I laugh.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  21. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    The Fly was half psych, half body horror, not dread.

    Comedy Horror is what I think you're talking about, which
    primarily uses horror tropes, but plays them off for comedic
    effect rather than to be scary. The Army of Darkness falls
    into that camp.
    Though a closer fit would be Gremlins.

    Lovecraft is more abstract, and commonly called Cosmic Horror.

    Dread Horror is more fear based, and less to do with monsters
    and blood thirsty killers, it is more existential in nature.
     
  22. ohmiyoni

    ohmiyoni New Member

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    Hmm! Interesting! I tend to view most horror as Fun, because I partake in it for entertainment. I have a very high horror tolerance, and have watched many flicks with varying levels of enjoyment.

    I believe Humor and Fun can be added to enhance Horror as a genre. For example, the light-hearted moments in the It remake provided a really stark contrast to the horror. It gave a momentary respite, like "Oh thank god everything is okay and normal! This isn't so bad," to "Oh my god this is absolutely wrecked". It heightened the highs and lowered the lows, like a rollercoaster.

    However, there are only a handful of horror media I have consumed where I was left truly hollow and affected. And I can tell you, there were no, and I mean no light hearted moments, little-to-no garish death scenes, and just dredging through the sludge of humanity. I feel like the less general death and killing there is (perhaps even on-screen vs off-screen), the more poignant and impactful the deaths are. For example, in Hereditary there are not very many deaths on-screen, but hoo-wee when it happens it is so uncool. Or in Eraserhead there aren't many, erm, comprehensible deaths. Or in Salo, there aren't many deaths. Maybe the common theme is the terror of actually living that's the scary part.
     
  23. baboonfish

    baboonfish Member

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    Hereditary. Now there's a horror film. I'm a real aficionado of the genre, I can't say much really scares me any more, but that one stays with me. ***spoilers if you havent watched it****I remember watching in the cinema, and when the tongue popping moment happened, after the girl died (that death was also sooooo so unexpected), everyone in the room went batshit and I just sat there with a huge smile on my face. Man, that bit with Toni Collette bashing her head against the ceiling then cutting it off, I wont ever forget that either, it's etched on my brain! There are so few horrors that hit the notes of Hereditary. In my eyes it regenerated a tired genre but I might be waiting a long time for something to equal it. Midsommar was good but not on the same level. Movies like Tucker and Dale, Cabin in the Woods etc, that subvert the genre are great, but a straight up horror film is exceptionally hard to do well, especially since it almost became a pastiche genre. Most hyped ones like Get Out and It follows are well worth watching but a bit one note compared to the few true classics of the genre.
     
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  24. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I still don't know how I feel about Midsommar. Dread horror I guess is what I'd call that (instead of fear)? I guess I've yet to figure out if I find that sort of emotion to be palate cleansing or not. I decided not to watch Hereditary after that one though, so perhaps I don't like it or at least can't handle more than one every five years or more.

    Still need to watch The Lighthouse though. Seems sort of Poe-esque.
     
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  25. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree 100%. Hereditary will be remembered as the best horror of the decade. All your other examples are spot on too. They were great and could get a laugh when they wanted one, and in that sense they were successful movies, but holy smoke, Hereditary was the real deal. It was ruthless but not in a try-hard way. (I'm thinking of Eli Roth here . . .) It did what it needed to and it did not pull its punches. No one-liners, no crowd pleasing moments. Just pure evil.

    I liked "The Witch" too, though that's more subdued. That would be my #2 for the last decade. You really need closed captioning to appreciate it. It has a fantastic character arc. When I think of that poor girl at the end and what she'd gone through with her family and . . . yeah, that thing. It was very wise that they omitted a certain scene. It's just implied. We don't want people fixating on one scene. (Here, I'm reminded of Deliverance, which is a stupendous movie known for one act, well, two if you count the banjo bit. Kind of a shame, because it's a distraction.) We're lucky A24 Studios is around. They almost always deliver. "The Lighthouse" was theirs too. And "Midsommar." It's crazy how much of the top horror is coming from that one place.

    Oh, "The Witch" also doesn't have any chuckles. It's very slow though. I understand why some people don't like it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
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