The Horror -- NOT an Apocalypse Now thread. . .

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Mastadge, Jun 28, 2002.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    This is a thread for the discussion of horror in any incarnation. Why? Because I want to be scared. I look through the horror section at a video store, I see a whole bunch of slasher flicks, sci-fi movies and all that that may be gory, but are rarely actually scary. I look through the horror section at a bookstore, and I see romances, fantasies and mysteries masquerading as horror, despite the fact that they simply don't horrify.

    I think the last time I was actually scared by a story was years ago when I read some Roald Dahl story about a guy who could see from any exposed skin, instead of just his eyes. That's what scary -- concepts and psychologies that on their own aren't scary, but can scare the crap out of you when you consider the implications. Gruesome deaths and strange plot twists and vampires aren't scary -- they're gruesome and strange and obsolete, respectively. But not scary. And I want to be scared.

    So here's the place to discuss what makes books and films scary, and recommend to each other ones that actually are scary.
  2. DarthYama Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2001
    star 4
    The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons. It's about a guy that can read minds.
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Oath by Frank Peretti is a good one. Very allegorical tale about human nature and weakness. I've read it four times.
  4. pkloa Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2002
    star 4
    i don't believe i have ever been frightened by a book, and i have been an avid reader my whole life. my sig suggests my liking of stephen king. as for movies, the first nightmare on elm street scared me when i was but a wee lad. also, hellraiser can still creep me out.

    honestly, i don't think there will be many movies that can scare a general audience anymore, because we have become desensitized to violence and gore. the movies will have better looking graphics, but overall, if you were not alive for the '70s and'80s horror films, you'll be dissappointed in the genre.
  5. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    honestly, i don't think there will be many movies that can scare a general audience anymore, because we have become desensitized to violence and gore.

    But that's just it -- violence and gore have nothing to do with horror -- they're just gravy, there to add shock value.

    The Exorcist didn't scare so many people because of heads turning around; stuff like that provided memorable reference scenes, but people were scared because of the psychological and religious questions it brought up. Halloween wasn't scary because Michael Myers gruesomely killed people, but because he seemed unstoppable, and evil, and that was something that hand't been done before in movies in a human form. Hellraiser wasn't scary because the cenobites looked cool or because there was a mass of gore on the floor that became a human, it was scary because of the ideas about hell and the human soul and all that that it represented. That, too, is why Psycho worked -- although in my opinion the book was more effective than the film.

    Horror is the little things that creep into your mind and really scare you, not the bloody gruesomeness that shocks you for a moment on screen. The image itself might be scary if it's particularly gory, but it's a different kind of fright.

    That's the reason most monsters aren't scary anymore. They're obsolete as tools to frighten. Vampires in their modern form were society's answer to then-unexplained blood diseases and such. Those diseases pretty much don't even exist as a problem anymore. We understand them; thus there's no need for vampires. Hence, they've ceased to be scary. Now, they're either romantic immortal humans, or they're science-fiction fodder; not the stuff of horror anymore, despite where such books may be placed in the bookstore.
  6. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Nobody has any thoughts?
  7. MarkaRagnos Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2002
    The movie Pi is not classified as horror, but it can be pretty disturbing. Another one is Requiem for a Dream, now i did not mention this film because it is a horror film either but you will not think about drugs the same way, and i know that half of the movies out lately have been on or around this point, but this film is seriously disturbing. I have to suggest though, a good horror film can always be found under the name Alfred Hitchcock, now, this is not something that most would say, but his horror is still rather frightening today, because he was a genius when it came to frightening and warping the minds of audiences. Though if you want true horror, just watch some prime time reality show, and let your fully functional psyche be decimated with the true horror of the major net work's interpretation of "entertainment".
  8. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Hitchcock was awesome. He knew how to frame and light a scene perfectly for perfect psychological effect. The only of his films that I've seen and not liked was The Birds, simply because having worked with birds for several years I can't suspend disbelief while watching their antics in that film.
  9. Ariana Lang Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 1999
    star 5
    Actually before it was an "Apocalypse Now" lnie it was a "Heart of Darkness" line. Just thought I'd mention that. :D
  10. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Apocalypse Now was a variation on Heart of Darkness. Unfortunately, Marlon Brando is a more recognizable voice than...was it Joseph Conrad who wrote Heart of Darknss?
  11. Ki-Adi Bundi Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2000
    star 4
    ...was it Joseph Conrad who wrote Heart of Darknss?
    Yes it was. I had so far failed to find this book here :_|.

    Two movies that recently freaked me out (a true feat) were The Gift and Event Horizon. The Gift for the genial (though not original) use of visual stimuli (those trees and swamps were really spooky) and music and sound effects. Also, Cate Blanchet(sp?) is divine.

    Event Horizon scared me so much I had trouble sleeping that night. It has some gore displayed, but it was so disturbing, and freaky, that I... Oh well, I can't really say why this movie disturbed me. I just know that I could really ignore it's major faults (Sam Neil, bad actor :( ), design reminiscent of other films, and not very original scrypt.
  12. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    I haven't seen Event Horizon, but I'd like to. I do enjoy The Gift. It didn't actually scare me, but it was creepy, and also well acted, atmospheric, and while I don't find Cate Blanchett to be terrible attractive, she has a wonderful screen presence and charisma, and I love watching her act.
  13. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    A snippet from an interesting [link=http://www.nightshadebooks.com/corona/corona1.html]editorial[/link]:
    The problem is, Horror, as a genre, doesn?t have a continuous sense of history and community. There has always been a class division between the horror that is peddled to the masses, and the horror that is read in the hallowed halls of academia. There has never been the kind of cross-pollination that has allowed the SF and fantasy genre?s to flourish and transcend genre and class boundaries. SF and fantasy has always been considered a ghetto genre, with no artificial market separation between E. E. Doc Smith, Phillip K. Dick, and Ursula Le Guin. It?s all been marketed to the same audience for 75 years. The readers and writers of those genres have been allowed to co-exist with one another? to inspire one another? and to push the genre boundaries just a little bit further.

    Like all genre labels, Horror has become a marketing concept to enable readers to continue getting the same thing over and over. Aficionados of the weird fiction pulps often don?t read anything published past 1950. Ghost fiction?s most fervent adherents often don?t read anything from the 20th century. People who cut their teeth on the splatter punk movement are often blithely unaware that Stephen King didn?t invent the genre, and that horror short stories were published long before Clive Barker's Books of Blood? Do I even need to mention Cthulhu Mythos Junkies?

    These discreet sub-genres don?t support the kind of diversity necessary to maintain a healthy eco-system. . .
  14. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Now that's an interesting point that piece brings up.

    Genre blending is necessary and that's one of my soap boxes. But we're talking about being eclectic within a genre so I won't get on that.

    Now, to be blunt, I'm not a huge fan of horror. I do, however, read the best of the best and watch the best of the best. I treat horror like I treat other genres. I get the best of the best, because I owe it to myself to sample from every genre.

    Bottom line is if you don't read books, watch films, listen to music, whatever in an eclectic fashion, than you don't grow. Period. Fact.

    I agree with that point. Frankenstein is horror, but so is Pet Sematary. Any respectable fan of horror should read both. In the same way, Halloween is a touchstone in the same way that Freaks is and so you really should watch both of them. :D

    Great article.
  15. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Try also this other editorial, by the same guy: [link=http://www.nightshadebooks.com/corona/corona8.html]more good stuff[/links]

    He's got a lot of interesting stuff to say.
  16. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    What he brings up about horror versus suspense is one of the interesting things I've always had trouble with. A horror film is supernatural and a suspense film isn't, seems to be what he's saying, but I'm not sure I agree totally. I think it's kind of up to the viewer.

    Was the Silence of the Lambs horror? What about Friday the 13th? Ironically, some of these franchises seem, by that defination, to be suspense films that spawn horror sequels, given the prediliction for resurrection shown by some of our recent 'monsters.' Heck, even Frankenstein might fit better under science fiction, since there are no supernatural elements to be found there.

    Basically, I think most horror films are suspense films. Slasher films, on the other hand, are usually neither. One isn't scared nor is one involved in the story line.

    You can have suspense without horror, but I don't think it works the other way.

    Like I say though, I'm not real big on horror as a genre, so I might have showed my ignorance here. :D
  17. AgentCoop Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 16, 2002
    star 4
    Horror...good horror, has as much to do with the audience as it has to do with the material. Which is why most of it comes off so badly, because it's a delicate balancing act for the writer or director.

    Good horror succeeds by getting into your head, into your skin. Jumping out and saying "BOO!", in and of itself, is not horror. But doing so at the right time, when you have skillfully prepared your audience's frame of mind, it is.

    Setting a proper mood is absolutely vital to good horror. There are many ways to go about this, but the effect you're looking for is one of uncomfortable anticipation. First, everything seems normal. Then, the ordinary begins to take on a slightly sinister, slighty warped aspect. Soon you are left with a feeling that something is going to happen. Something bad. But what? When that something finally comes it doesn't need to be anything overblown or garish provided the proper mood has been set.

    The number one problem with most modern horror films/stories is that the people creating them have forgotten to rely on the audience. They have forgotten how much good horror relies on what you don't see. Fear of the unknown is one of mankind's most primal, most powerful fears and writers and filmmakers have forgotten how to use it. When you finally see the monster under the bed it's never half as scary as what you imagined it to be. They've forgotten how to use the audience's imaginations against them.

    There are a few exceptions, of course. Even today. "The Blair Witch Project" did all of the above things wonderfully, I think. The last shot of the film, with one of the party members standing in the corner of the basement with his face to the wall as we hear the horrified screams of his companion is, to me one of the scariest moments I've ever seen on film. Why? Because we have no idea what is really happening. We only know that it is something bad. Something awful.

    Stephen King, too, has always had an appreciation for the power of the unseen, and when he uses it he uses it well. It comes from his having grown up listening to the old classic horror programs on the radio like Suspense and Arch Oboler's Lights Out Everybody. Check out King's story "The Mist" in the short story collection "Skeleton Crew" for just one example of how King manages to scare the bejeezus out of you using the unseen.

    I'll leave you with one more example, and it's a surprising one. If you own a Sony Playstation 2 I urge any horror fan to seek out "Silent Hill" and "Silent Hill 2". Yes, they're video games. They are also two of the scariest pieces of entertainment I have ever experienced. Here, too, you will notice the use of setting, mood and the unseen employed with expert precision to create a horror experience unlike any other. Play it in the dark, with the volume cranked high. I dare you not to be scared.
  18. Darth Dark Helmet Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 27, 1999
    star 6
    I am a horror nut, I think one of the biggest problems with horror movies today, is that the movie makers aren't scaring us, they're simply telling us why we should be scared. I think the movie Jeepers Creepers is a perfect example of both. The first half of the movie, is perfect. All it does it create an atmospehere and then use it to scare you. You get shots of the truck accelerating on the car from behind, the creature just standing there. Its all very mysterious and damned scary. Then the second half of the movie comes. For me it turns around when the Creeper kills the cat woman, and they show us what he looks like. At that point he goes from a mysterious, scary monster, to simply a monster. As they show us more and more fo the creature, he gets less and less scary.

    I really loved the Blair Witch Project, simply because it never explained a dmaned thing, it left it all up to your imagination. They don't show us what's beating on the tents, they don't show what's making noise in the forest. They don't show us who is doing the things in the cabin. They leave it purely to the viewers imagination. Which is the best thing to do. Anything my imagination can come up with is more frightening to me then any screen monster.
  19. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Have any of you guys read any William Hope Hodgson?
  20. Darth Dark Helmet Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 27, 1999
    star 6
    Can't say that I have. I'm guessing by you bringing it up that he's a pretty good. What's he written?
  21. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    He wrote a lot of nautical horror about 100 years ago, as well as a lot of stuff that is very similar to The X-Files.
  22. Vaderbait Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 6
    The original Dracula book by Bram Stoker was horror at its finest. I don't really think books are capable of really scaring you, but Dracula comes close.

    The original Dracula movie was pretty scary if you watch it at night during the fall and you're out in the country.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.