Friday, January 27, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#62) -- Why Horror?

Why do you like horror films so much?

To answer that, I'll have to adapt the question into two new questions (because I'm a writer, and I need the space for words).

Why did I like them as a kid?

Because I could stay up late and watch something "forbidden," of course. That was the start of it. But from there I stuck around because of the scary moments (the adrenaline rush), the cute scream queens, and the monsters themselves. It was only later that I discovered the more gory and "sexy" horror films of the Eurotrash market and the Italian "sleaze" (many or which are quite tame by today's standards) flicks.

Why do I still love them? Or to put it a way that perhaps some of you are thinking... Why haven't I outgrown them?

Because the writer and the adult and the literature major in me has found in good horror flicks all the stuff that made me fall in love with stories in the first place. Good vs. Evil, the existential search for meaning beyond mere survival, redemption for initially selfish characters, reaping what you sow, the sins of the fathers visited upon the sons -- it's all there. No, not in every film, and particularly not in the films that cater to the lowest common denominator (but you'll find that in ALL genres, not just horror). Because of the immediacy of the possibility of death, characters in horror films must face the kinds of questions the rest of us prefer to push to the backburner. However, with Jason chasing through the woods with a machete, you don't have that luxury. You find out quickly whether you want to really live or not, whether you regret your choices, and whether you choose to fight for the safety of others or turn tail and run away to save your own skin above all others.

Good horror films go where other movies often don't dare. Bad horror films do too, just not as well.

And they still can sometimes scare the bejeckles out of the 8-year-old kid who still lives inside me.