Horror What makes good horror?

Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Thorn Cylenchar, Aug 24, 2020.

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  1. Aldarion

    Aldarion Active Member

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    I found it less horrific and more disgusting. In fact, the only Alien movie I found genuinely scary was the first one. Others are just mindless action. Same goes for Jurassic Park - first one has moments which can still scare me, others are just action flicks, nothing scary about them.
     
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  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    It was a play on words.
     
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  3. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Life is Dynamite Contributor

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    It finally came to me!

    "Dread" by Clive Barker :superidea:
    Has elements of "man vs food" lol.

    (The short story version.... aparently there was a movie based on it but ive never seen itand cant say for certain that it follows the story)
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
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  4. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    I think you have to meet horror halfway. I never watch a horror movie or listen to an audiobook unless every light in the house is off. I want the full experience. The middle of a room is also better than the back of a room, because you don't know what's behind you. I mean you know, but still. Furniture with legs is also preferable, especially if it's high enough for something to hide underneath. Oh, and it's best to be the only person in the house (that you know of.) That's how you watch a horror movie. :)

    A horror book or movie has done it's job if I'm turning on every light in the house afterward, afraid to reach around the corner for the light switch. Then it's time to settle in with a Disney cartoon to shake it off.
     
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  5. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks for the rec. I'm definitely going to read it.

    I was looking around for my own recommendations and found a list that includes links to read all the (short) stories they listed:


    From the list I've only read Yellow Wallpaper (that I remember). Not on that list that I just bought and what is considered a classic of horror - The Great God Pan by Alfred Machen. It apparently inspired Lovecraft, Stoker, and King.
     
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  6. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Life is Dynamite Contributor

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    funny thing... im at work (don't tell anyone i'm slacking!!) and like 15 mins ago i came across an edition of "the yellow wallpaper" and it begins with an essay from the editor titled "is this considered gothic horror?"
    i have not read the essay yet (saving it for my lunch break), but having read "the yellow wallpaper" multiple times, i never really saw it as a "horror." i liked the story, but it wasn't scary or horrific or anxiety inducing to me.

    I was underwhelmed by "Cthulhu"

    "Monkey's Paw" and "Masque of the Red Death" i thoroughly loved in Middle School AND devoted essays to them both in my college Horror and Suspense class.

    one thing i've learned in the class mentioned above and another class along that line (taught by the same professor) is that horror changes/adapts with the times. so i guess what WE consider "horror" is not longer the horror that's in the classics.
    maybe i'm restating the obvious :bigoops:... but it just occurred to me after viewing your list
     
  7. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I think movies have changed the idea of horror a lot. Also, I don't recall ever reading a book that really scared me much. Whereas I have a lot of trouble watching horror movies (I've screamed in movie theatres, watched entire movies with my eyes covered, and mostly just turned them off and begged we never watch horror again). The classics are a bit more subdued and probably swing a bit more to the gothic side instead of full out horror these days. I think the goal is more to unsettle, instead of frighten. I still consider them to have the core of what horror is about though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
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  8. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    To me, the idea of my mind betraying me is horrifying. Even worst is knowing that dementia and alzheimers happen. So for me, where you start to doubt your sanity can get terrifying.

    I've never gotten into torture porn (Saw, Human Centipede, ect). It's not because they scare me, I just am... disgusted....
     
  9. TheWritingKid

    TheWritingKid New Member

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    My opinion would be to make a sentence that has a gruesome subject in it, and to describe that subject the most twisted, ugly, disgusting way possible, depending on the subject you would be defining. Just my opinion, but I think that it depends a lot on your mood too. For example, if you are grumpy,on that day you choose to write, you would write in a more down, depressing state. If you are happy, then you would write in a more upbeat type of way. That happens a lot with me, for sure.
     
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  10. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    It's horrific in the sense that it's a really bad movie but that's about it.
     
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  11. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Unfortunately, that's what a lot of horror is these days. It's mindless jump scares, body horror and gross outs. In the theater, it's made so that girls will grab their boyfriends. It really is pretty forgettable beyond the moment. Books are largely the same, although I haven't regularly read horror in a long time. When I'm talking about good horror, it's the stuff that makes you go home, lock all of your doors and hide under the covers because you don't know if the monster is outside your door. It has to be visceral. That's how a lot of old-school Stephen King used to be back in the 70s.

    But as you get older, horror just doesn't mean much. I don't know the last time I was legitimately scared. I'm just too old for it.
     
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  12. hankas

    hankas New Member

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    There is an important difference between movies and books, and that is the delivery of the story. With movies, you have to be very explicit when depicting a scene and the viewers take a passive role in absorbing the story. With books, you should describe enough and leave plenty of room for the reader's imagination to roam free. Unlike movies, if you add too many details the book becomes hard to read. This is why books are irreplaceable by movies. I do not like horror stories, but I enjoy fantasy books more than fantasy movies.
     
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  13. Davi Mai

    Davi Mai Banned Supporter

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    Good point. And if a tangent is permitted - For almost the opposite reason, its why I enjoy sci-fi books rather than sci-fi movies. The book can go into more detail around the science, in fact hardcore sci-fi fans really enjoy that. Gimme five pages on how your warp drive works... I'm up for it!

    But in the movie - how the warp drive works will be dumbed down into a couple of lines.
     
  14. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I guess what I meant is that movies are a sensory/bodily experience whereas books are a mental one. Regardless though, horror genre definitions aren't separated very clearly between books and movies.
     
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  15. Mocheo Timo

    Mocheo Timo Senior Member

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    That short story was the scariest thing I've ever come across. Maybe because I heard it as audiobook and there were some sounds that added dramatic effect, but this story captures what horror should be like to me. As many mentioned, there should be both an element of helplessness as well as a sense of realism which makes the character's horror seem real and relatable.

    I think that part of what makes horror effective is the context in which you're exposed to it. I'd much rather hear a horror story around a campfire than watch one in the movies. A great deal of horror content I remember being afraid of as a child had less to do with the content than the fact that my parents weren't around me when I was exposed to the content.

    Regarding movies, I dislike the horror genre because many movies that fall under that category hold the audience's attention by several scenes that jump at you in a form of surprise. You're not scared, you're actually surprised just as you'd be if someone touched your shoulder when you were distracted. Many of these movies also disappoint me as stories, failing to create interesting characters or themes.
     
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  16. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    This. Books allow a lot more detail than movies do. A movie with the same level of detail as a book, especially hard scifi would be this un-weildy multi-day length monstrosity.
     
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  17. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Life is Dynamite Contributor

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    My mom is a huge horror junky and shed find friends who liked horror. A lot of the horror that i watched as a kid that terrified me was because my mom or her friend would be watching it and i would be forced to watch it (getting my hair braided at her friends house, sitting there in the chair for hours while the woman braided my hair, watching Creep Show and Friday the 13 with my mom saying "just close your eyes and cover your ears at the scary parts" was the context of why those movies scared me. I indeed felt helpless because i couldnt leave the room or change the channel or run away.... Had to sit and watch it)

    I guess im desensitized to that stuff now (aside from bug related stuff... The scene in The Mummy with the scarabs beneath the skin STILL freaks me out).
     
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  18. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    My kids got to see Peter Jackson's Dead Alive back when they were maybe 8 and 10. It's a gross movie, on purpose. One couldn't care less and sat down to watch the whole thing, the other decided it was too intense and went elsewhere to play. One likes horror movies to this day and the other doesn't.
     
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  19. Davi Mai

    Davi Mai Banned Supporter

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    We got hassled for letting our daughter watch the Resident Evil movies when she was quite young, maybe 8-10 also.
    I was into the games, and she liked watching me play them, so it was natural to watch the movies as well. She is now 16 and still watches horror movies. I don't think its impacted her negatively. She's your average obnoxious teenager. I would ask her about it, but she only answers very simple questions that don't require her to look away from her phone. Longer enquiries are met with disdain.
     
  20. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    My oldest daughter, who likes horror, just started her last semester with a full-ride scholarship and an overall GPA of 3.97. I don't think it hurt her any.
     
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  21. Mocheo Timo

    Mocheo Timo Senior Member

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    Well in that case, the horror is intensified by a real life horror: being forced to watch something you didn't want to. Really sorry to hear that by the way.

    [​IMG]
     
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  22. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Life is Dynamite Contributor

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    ...this is disturbing:bigeek:
    (And how i envision putting in contacts to be)
     
  23. Infearofacircle

    Infearofacircle New Member

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    I agree in part about helplessness being a core element in what produces an effective horror scenario. However, for me, it's varied throughout the years based on my own personal experiences.

    At 11, the 1st act of Ghostbusters was scary. (That librarian, though.) In high school, it was various Stephen King stories and their small-town outlook.

    Now, I find subjects that are considered to be inevitable (ie. aging, death, loss) to be absolutely horrifying when amplified in a more subtle context. For example, a Universal monster movie is bland in a contemporary setting. But, make the eternal monster part of the backdrop in the story and primarily explore the impact it has on a town or a city over its long history up to the present day without direct reference. I find that to be more unsettling and horrific since you are seeing play out the cultural augmentation to an otherwise mysterious entity and relate to the residual apathy and desensitization it creates in the denizens. By not directly referencing the creature through the prose, there is room to fill in the blanks for one's own personal lore.
     
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  24. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Haha. I liked that movie enough to get a tattoo of it.
     
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  25. Mocheo Timo

    Mocheo Timo Senior Member

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    Seems appropriate given the topic of the thread though :D
     
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