UNITED STATES—Since I can remember, I have always been a fan of horror films. To be honest I think I’ve been a fan since the age of 4 or 5 to be honest, and I’ve always wondered why. What is it about horror films that nab my attention? Is it the adrenaline rush? Check. Is it the idea of having to outwit a psychopath when all odds are against you? Check. Is it the fact that it forces us to question what we would do in such situations? Check.
There are probably a ton of reasons that little kids who eventually become adults have a strong interest in this genre. However, as an adult I find myself being super guarded when my nieces and nephews inquire about watching. I’m like no way, not in a million years are you being exposed to such violence, sex and pouty language.
As I’ve gotten older people, I’ve realized I’m not truly a fan of horror films, because I HATE slasher movies and almost all movies from the 1980s fall into that category. Yes, the 80s are important because it was a decade that single handedly exploded the horror genre and almost destroyed it at the same time. I am not a fan of violence, especially, bloody, grotesque and excessive violence which is what many horror flicks of the 80s and some going into early 90s seemed to pride themselves on.
I would not constitute that horror, even though films from the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchises are drenched with graphic violence. My argument would be I kind of grew up with Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger as actual faces of horror, instead of some sociopath hiding behind a mask. This would be a good argument for my defense: those films represented villains of a supernatural entity, whereas the bulk of horror as some would deem in the 80s, involved human beings donned in strange masks.
Those villains were a bit more frightening as they appeared like everyday people, whereas Freddy, Michael and Jason weren’t the case. It also raises the age-old question rather a supernatural villain is far scarier than an actual human face? I would argue yes, but there are those proponents that would argue otherwise. Horror and I mean horror that is done right relies on four important ELEMENTS: an identifiable protagonist, a threatening villain, a straightforward narrative and suspense. The biggest problem so many so called horror flicks fall for is the idea that having a likeable protagonist and a not so threatening villain. It doesn’t work that way people, the villain is just as important as the hero.
What most horror films fail to deliver is suspense! That is not an easy thing to do because so many writers and directors fall into that common troupe of following typical horror flick formulas of a cat jumping out of a closet, or someone being right behind you that isn’t the villain. Change the rules people, do something that hasn’t been done before. I think the fun of horror is the comradery that people in a darkened theater get from engaging in a narrative with a bunch of others that has them clamoring how they would escape a treacherous situation.
Horror films dig deep into the human psyche. Can we actually believe all these so called horror films that have become iconic since their arrival in the 1970s and 1980s could be a testament from some sort of real life phenomenon? Yes, but it’s a bit of a stretch. For years I thought “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” actually happened, but it so did not go down like that people. So filmmakers know how to get underneath the skin by utilizing that infamous ‘based on a true story’ or ‘inspired by actual events’ tagline in the movie poster or opening credits of the movie. Why is that important? It impacts how we perceive the movie? If we get the slightest inkling that this perhaps happened, it heightens our emotional connection to the movie itself.
The cinematic world of horror has both its pros and cons. It causes us to think, but at the same time the level of violence has become so over-the-top it raises the question as to WHY? Some of the BEST horror films in history have little to no blood in the movies. It’s much scarier to wonder what you’re not seeing versus what you actually see. Horror in doses is great, but not in a million years, even could I want to watch horror all day every day. It’s just not healthy people!