I wanted to get this post out about a week ago, but work was soooo draining that I had to put it to the side for a short moment. However, I wanted to take a small(-ish) break from reviewing and talk a bit about the whole point of this blog. Horror is a passion of mine, that’s clear, and as a fan, I wanted to be able to explain some things about it that some non-fans and newbies may not completely understand. If you are a horror newbie, welcome to the club! If you are someone who is looking to know more before jumping in feet first, I hope that this post can shed some light on why horror is so loved by its fans. Horror can be a complex thing, this is true. There are intricacies, story lines to untangle, characters to hate, characters to love, genres to explore. Personally, I think that one of the reasons that I love horror so much is because it never stops evolving. There is just about something for everyone, comedies, books, cartoons, anime, tv shows, manga, so many different media forms to choose from, it can be easy for a newbie to decide what’s best.
All horror does not mean gore. I know a lot of horror has a plethora of blood and guts, but, one, that does not always equal good horror and two, that does not mean it has to be something you watch as a fan. It’s quite ok to be a horror fan and not be a splatterpunk/slasher/gore fan. I can appreciate a bloody flick, but also love a deeply suspenseful psychological horror film as well. Some sub-genres you may want to explore are Lovecraftian horror, urban gothic, horror comedy, giallo, body horror or extreme just to name a few. If you are looking for some recommendations, here are a few to get you started:
Lovecraftian: Re-animator (1985), The Dunwich Horror (1970), The Corridor (2010)
Giallo: Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972), Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975)
Urban Gothic: American Psycho (2000), The Crow (1994), The Hunger (1983)
Horror Comedy: Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988), Young Frankenstein (1974)
Body Horror: Body Melt (1993), Antiviral (2012), The Stuff (1985)
There are several different formats that horror can be introduced in, especially if you are a newcomer to the genre. Yes, you have your movies, but there are also cartoons, comics, manga, anime, short films and books. If you are a vinyl collector like me, there are horror soundtracks that you can purchase to enjoy the sound of horror if you don’t feel like putting on a film. I love the soundtrack to Starry Eyes (2014) personally after a long day at work. If you’re an avid reader, you can go with the more well-known horror authors like Stephen King (Everything’s Eventual, Mr. Mercedes), John Saul (Black Creek Crossing, Sleepwalk), or Clive Barker (The Hellbound Heart, Coldheart Canyon) or go with a lesser known but still fantastic author such as Poppy Z. Brite (Lost Souls, Plastic Jesus), Kealan Patrick Burke (The Tent, Sour Candy) and for the more extreme, Edward Lee (The House, Witch Water).
Don’t let the mainstream media fool you. Not all horror is the same and not all horror directors follow the same formula. Quite honestly, I could say that about rom coms, but we won’t go there. There are notable directors in the horror game, some names that you may know and be familiar with such as John Carpenter, Eli Roth and the iconic Wes Craven (may he rest well.) Some other directors that are worth looking into and are heavily discussed amongst fans are Lucio Fulci (The House by the Cemetery, Don’t Torture a Duckling), Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Five Dolls for an August Moon), Stuart Gordon (From Beyond, Dolls), and Jaume Balaguero (Sleep Tight, REC). I spend a lot of my free time exploring Asian horror as it is one of my favorite sub-genres and top directors of mine are Hideo Nakata (Dark Water, The Complex), Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Cold Fish), Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Imprint), Noboru Iguchi (Tomie, Dead Sushi) , and Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Venegence).
Quite honestly, I could go on about anime foreevvvvaaaa, but I won’t. I will put these two in the same category since a lot of anime is based on originals in manga form. For those who really want to ease into the horror genre with a purr instead of a roar, this would be a better route. Junji Ito stays at the top of most anime/manga fans for his body horror artwork, unique stories and willingness to portray society as something easily broken. He is the creator of the Tomie series that Iguchi and other directors have made come to life on the screen. Other notable mangaka (artists) are Hideshi Hino, Kanako Inuki, Kazuo Umezu, and Rei Mikamoto, who wrote Reiko the Zombie Shop, an all-time favorite of mine. For anime, you really can’t go wrong with Another, Hell Girl, Deadman Wonderland, Wicked City and Attack on Titan.
So much to choose from! Is it any wonder why horror fans are horror fans? With an seemingly endless supply of media and art forms to pick and choose from, you could really never get bored with it. There are too many people who believe that horror is just the “same old thing”, blood and guts. Sure, you have your movies like Saw and Sweatshop, but you also have tantalizing suspenseful films such as They Look Like People and Don’t Cry, Mommy. Horror can make you cry, horror can make you laugh. Horror can make you go, “Oh hell naw!” and can also make you think. Horror does not deserve to be shoved in a box in a corner and its fans written off as a bunch of serial killer loving freaks. Hey! We might enjoy Dexter and Hannibal, but we like unicorns and Hello Kitty too. Enjoy horror, enjoy it for what it is. Enjoy it for the mindless entertainment it can provide, enjoy it for the thoughtfulness it can provoke. Bottom line? Just enjoy it.
Scream on, babies.